Between travel ball and prep softball at Valencia, Ally Shipman has caught countless pitches from Shea O’Leary.
Although the recent grads’ time at Valencia has ended and their travel ball season will eventually end as well, the pair will have one last outing together on July 27th at the Premier Girls Fastpitch High School All-American Game at DeAnna Manning Stadium in Irvine.
“It’s so cool that we are both there because we’re both on the same travel ball team and we play high school ball together,” O’Leary, a Texas signee, said. “So to get this experience with her again is a great feeling.”
The game, which will be televised on ESPNU, features an “East” team and a “West” team. O’Leary and Shipman will represent the “West” team along with some of the most talented senior softball players from across the West Coast.
“I definitely want to beat the East Coast and show them what West Coast softball is all about,” Shipman, a Tennessee commit, said. “That’s just me personally. I’m pretty competitive that way.”
The pair will be coached by Jennie Finch, a two-time Olympic medalist and professional softball player. Finch also helped Arizona win a Women’s College World Series Championship and holds the NCAA record for pitching wins with 60.
Two-time Olympian and former UCLA softball player Natasha Watley will also be on the coaching staff along with Toni Mascarnenas, a USA National Team player and professional softball player.
Both O’Leary and Shipman are eager to study under the tutelage of Finch.
“Every little softball girl, they knew all about Jennie Finch,” Shipman said. “She’s every softball girl’s idol. For her to coach us is a dream come true.”
It will be O’Leary’s second run-in with Finch after the two met at a U-14 softball tournament in Colorado years ago.
“I got to take a picture with her, and ever since then I’ve looked up to her,” O’Leary said. “So I’m super, super excited for meeting her and getting her to mentor me.”
O’Leary recently rolled her ankle during a pitching workout and is expected to be out for two weeks. She hopes to be healthy for the travel ball season and will be ready to go for the All-American Game – her last outing with Shipman.
“I think we both really matured as a pitcher and catcher over the four years,” Shipman said. “I pretty much know her and how she pitches like the back of my hand … I pretty much just know what she wants and when she wants it. We’re a really good team together.”