By Sue Moore
Shaidan Knapp has been hitting balls with her grandfather, Ed Knapp, since she was six years old. So naturally, she has turned into a top-flight softball player for Vicksburg High School. “She just wanted to practice hitting as a youngster when her sisters were heading toward the swing sets to play,” said her grandfather.
“She was hitting right handed then, but is now a lefty with a natural ability to play ball,” the senior Knapp said in describing this budding athlete. He should know; he has coached thousands of young people in wrestling, football and baseball over the course of his 51-year career at Vicksburg High School. “I just love to play softball so chose that as my favorite sport to participate in,” Shaidan said. But not just softball. She has earned seven varsity letters playing volleyball and basketball as well as softball.
“Shaidan is a prime-time player,” said Mike Roy, VHS athletic director. “She is also an academic all-state on a team that qualified for this honor three years in a row.” The 2016 VHS softball team competed at the highest level, losing in the state finals last spring. Expectations are high for going all the way in 2017, said their coach, Paul Gephart. This brings more pressure as now they have a target on their back from other teams who took Vicksburg a bit lightly last year, he added. “The team members are all perfectionists. They want to win regardless, so they find the way to win and still don’t feel it is good enough,” Gephart said.
Knapp started at shortstop after three games as a freshman and has been going strong ever since. She was the leadoff hitter until a junior year hamstring injury affected her ability to run the bases. “We changed her to clean-up at the four spot and she ended up batting between .400 and .500 for the season. She just couldn’t steal bases after the injury but she could do everything else. She is very competitive and determined and carries a 4.3 academic average,” Gephart said.