By Mark Ambrogi
For Center Grove High School senior catcher Payton Shimansky, it was love at first swing.
“I have loved softball since the moment I swung a bat,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy how it takes an entire team to win a game. I love all of the technical aspects that softball has with hitting, fielding, throwing, etc. This means I can always improve in one aspect of the game and my role as a player can change based on what a certain team needs. The feeling that comes with getting a hit or getting a big out is incredible and something I have grown to wholeheartedly love. I enjoy how knowledgeable you have to be about the game and how complex it can be. It keeps me challenged and never bored.”
As of May 15, Shimansky was hitting .389 with eight doubles, two homers and 19 runs batted in for the Trojans (20-5). She hit .307 as a junior and .333 in her sophomore season.
“Payton is an extremely driven and intelligent individual, both on and off the field,” Trojans coach Alyssa Coleman said. “She is impressive on the field with power at the plate in the most clutch moments, and behind the dish guiding our pitching staff and shutting runners down. Even more impressive is her interactions off the field with her peers where you see her carry herself with grace.”
Coleman said when Shimansky talks, everyone listens.
“That is an absolute strength of hers, she does not waste anyone’s time, and she has a strong vision and focus on her goals,” Coleman said.
Shimansky, who will play softball for Columbia University in New York City, said she has made the most improvement in her leadership and mentality.
“I have learned to gain the trust of my teammates to help command the field,” she said. “I’ve developed immensely in my ability to step out of my comfort zone, be loud, and know what is needed to keep everyone on the field calm and in the right headspace. Personally, my mentality has also improved. I often struggled with letting the little mistakes mess with my head. Lately, I have been much better with keeping a level head regardless of the outcome which keeps me more in control of myself.”
Shimansky said her parents put her in every sport so she could try everything out.
“There were times when I was playing three sports at once. I’ve played soccer, basketball, volleyball and done cheerleading,” she said. “Softball became my favorite in the end.”
In addition, she has played multiple positions during her softball career.
“I became a catcher at the age of 8 when my all-star team needed one and it kind of stuck,” she said. “It always depends on the team that I am on. For example, I am set to play outfield in college and have played middle infield and corners prior to becoming a catcher. I just like being on the field and have been willing to learn any position in order to make that happen.”
Shimansky said she chose Columbia because of the Ivy League school’s academic rigor.
“I love to put myself in challenging situations because I believe it helps me grow,” she said. “Columbia initially wasn’t on my list until I visited a camp early (in) my junior year and fell completely in love with the entire environment. The campus was absolutely beautiful. It is in upper Manhattan yet feels like its own little world. It was a place I could see myself spending the next four years of my life.”
In addition, she said she felt a connection with the coaching staff.
“The coaches were strong, inspiring women who I knew would help shape me as a person,” she said. “The team environment was positive yet focused which was exactly what I was looking for. After just the first day being there, Columbia moved to the top of my list and there it stayed.”
THE SHIMANSKY FILE
NAME: Payton Shimansky
AGE: Turns 18 May 26
COLLEGE PLANS: Attend Columbia University to play softball and study psychology
FAVORITE SUBJECT: English
FAVORITE MUSICAL PERFORMER: Taylor Swift
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “Gilmore Girls”
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: San Diego
PARENTS’ NAMES: Greg and Shannon Shimansky