Sunday, May 18, 2014

Shelby Turnier Steps Into Justin's World

Although her team's season just ended less than an hour ago, one of the more impressive players that I got to watch this year was UCF pitcher Shelby Turnier. 

(c) Jim Hartsing // Used by permission
Just a sophomore, she was named to the AAC all-conference first team and recorded her first career no-hitter against Memphis in March. In nine fewer appearances and forty fewer innings than staff ace Mackenzie Audas, Turnier recorded just THREE FEWER strikeouts than her counterpart and opponents batted just .178 against Turnier, compared to a .205 OBA for Audas.

An all-freshman team nod in 2013, Turnier joined pretty exclusive company in South Florida's Sara Nevins and Houston's Deirdre Outon as the pitchers on the 2014 all-conference first team. She was more than well-deserving of the honor and I expect to see more of the same in the final two years of her collegiate career. Although early, she's a very impressive candidate for the pro ranks as a member of the class of 2016.

Shelby was kind enough to take time to answer my questions right in the middle of the busiest time of her year, and I'm thankful to her for doing so. Be sure you are connected to Shelby on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @shelbyturnier7.

Justin’s World: The first thing I want to ask you about is the mental aspect of the game. How does your mental preparation differ when you’re coming off a game like your no-hitter and when you’re in the middle of a so-called “slump”?

Shelby Turnier: My mental preparation doesn’t differ game to game. Whether I am throwing well or not, it doesn’t change the way I prepare for a game. I will say, though, that when I’m throwing well everything comes easy and natural. When I am focused, it seems that pitching is effortless. When I am not throwing well, it takes a lot of internal self-talk and imagery in order for me to get through the game.

JW: How do you think being part of a staff instead of just a workhorse ace helps you as an individual player?

ST: It helps a lot mentally and physically being part of a staff of pitchers. I know that if I ever get into trouble during the game that the other pitchers have my back, so that alone takes a lot of stress off of me during the game. Also physically, pitchers have a lot of wear and tear on their arms by the end of the season, so being part of a staff of pitchers helps divide that burden among all the pitchers instead of it lying on just one.

JW: What does being a Knight and representing the UCF embody for you?

ST: UCF stands for opportunity and you’ll find that everywhere around the campus. The minute you start to believe it is the minute you become a Knight. This season especially, we have the opportunity to make our dreams become a reality. UCF softball is united, focused, fearless and resiliant. Being a part of this team is more than anyone can imagine and any player would be honored to be part of such an amazing team.

JW: Other than the UCF Softball Complex, whats your favorite field or stadium to play in?

ST: I would say my other favorite complex to play in is my high school field which is called Amanda J. Buckley Field. My family (related and softball family) have put so much time and effort into making that field something spectacular. One of our graduates from Palm Beach Gardens High School suffered a tragic death and the field is a place for her to forever be honored and remembered.

JW: Do you think being both an offensive & defensive player helps you improve both aspects of your game? To clarify, do you think that being a pitcher helps you as a hitter and vice-versa?

ST: I think by being a pitcher and a hitter there are things that can help me and things that can hurt me. When I am hitting, I am aware of the count and what I would throw in that situation, but at the same time what I would throw and what the pitcher I am facing is going to throw might be completely different. But I definitely think that being a hitter and a pitcher helps me on the mound, because I am more aware of what the hitter wants while I’m also reading her swing.

JW: If you had to set just one goal for the remainder of this season and the rest of your collegiate career, what would you hope to accomplish?

ST: Win a national championship.

JW: Finish this sentence: If not for softball, I would be just another person.

JW: Do you have any gameday rituals?

ST: It changes game to game. I can be very superstitious like if I did something that day that I didn’t normally do and I play really well, then I will keep doing that thing until one day I do something different. Depending on how I play will determine if I keep doing that ritual or not. We do have team rituals before the game. Our newest edition is whiffle ball in the outfield before games.

JW: Let’s finish things off with some fun questions:
     - If you could trade places with anyone in history for a twenty-four hour day, who would it be and why?

ST: Jesus, because he’s the greatest man ever; who wouldn’t want to be Him for a day?

JW: Say youre stranded on a deserted island (Robinson Crusoe-style), but youre allowed to take three individual things with you. Boats and phones are off-limits. What would you carry along?

ST: That’s easy. Jeremiah's Italian ice; my cat; and my makeup bag.

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