Emily Shappell grew into role as catcher, team leader at St. Hubert

St. Hubert’s softball team had a secret weapon in Emily Shappell for three years. This year, she wasn’t a secret anymore.

Emily Shappell helped St. Hubert win the city championship by besting Central 15–0. PHOTO: EMILY SHAPPELL

The softball part came easy.

The leadership part took work.

Emily Shappell has been on the St. Hubert High School varsity softball team since she walked in as a freshman, but during the first three years of her career, she was primarily a backup.

“I wanted to play, but I think not playing kept me focused and working hard,” the Bensalem resident said. “I played catcher my whole life, so playing wasn’t hard. Plus, my dad was a catcher growing up, so he taught me a lot. He gives me a lot of tips like blocking and throwing down (to second base on steal attempts).

“I had a lot of help from him, but since I got to high school, I’ve had great coaching here, too. I knew I’d be ready to start.”

Defensively, catchers have to have a strong arm, but just as important is a strong mind for the game. The catcher has to see the entire field and make sure everyone knows what’s going on every time a pitch is thrown.

That was something Shappell wasn’t 100 percent confident in before the season started. Now, it’s second nature.

“I’m much more comfortable as a leader now,” Shappell said. “I’m not loud, but when you’re playing catcher, you have to set everything up. You really have to think out there. No matter what else I’m doing, I have to make sure we’re all doing the right thing.”

Apparently, Shappell is the perfect field general because with her behind the plate, the Bambies enjoyed a great year.

St. Hubert fell short in the Catholic League championship game, dropping the final to Bonner-Prendergast, but recovered to down Central in the District 12 Class AAAAAA championship game. The Bambies needed just four innings to dispose of the Lancers 15–0 in the game played at Arcadia University. Heroes were spread out, as every Bambie in the starting lineup recorded a hit.

Shappell went 1-for-2 with a walk and she left the field sporting a huge smile because she was able to play another game with her teammates.

“Losing was so tough, so it was really good to play another game and just be out there together again,” said Shappell, whose team suffered a 16–1 loss to Spring-Ford in the first round of the state playoffs. “Our team is so close and we worked so hard, so when we lost in the championship, it was so devastating. But then we had another chance to play together, and we won the (city championship) so it was perfect.”

Shappell’s biggest contribution to this year’s success was her ability to help first-year starting pitcher, sophomore Lindsay Davies.

Davies was one of the top hurlers in the league, and her chemistry with Shappell played a part in her success. But Shappell was quick to heap all the praise onto the pitcher.

“She is such a great pitcher, her ball has great movement on it and she really got better every game,” Shappell said. “I knew she was good because last year, I would catch her a lot in practice. But she was better this year. And when she was hitting her spots, it made my job very easy. I just had to catch it when it got there.”

Next year, Davies will be one of the best pitchers in the area, but she’ll be throwing to a new catcher.

Shappell will graduate Wednesday night. Next year, she’ll attended Immaculata, and she’s unsure if she’ll play softball. But even if she gives up the sport, she’ll still be involved in helping athletes.

“I want to become a physical therapist,” Shappell said. “I took (anatomy) when I was a junior and I just found it so interesting. The body is so interesting. And I really want to help people get better. You can really make an impact on somebody’s life. They’re trying to get better and you can have a big part of helping them get to where they need to get to.”

As much as she’s looking forward to a career as a physical therapist, she’s not too excited about leaving high school.

She serves as a Bambie Ambassador, where she talks with children in seventh and eighth grade about the benefits of going to her school. She’s not in that club because she has to be in it, she truly believes what she’s telling the prospective students.

“I’m so sad about graduating, I love the school so much,” Shappell said. “We moved to Bensalem before the school year. Last year, I lived really close to school. But I didn’t think of transferring at all. I didn’t mind going further because I love the school. I can’t wait to come back next year and watch (softball games).

“We aren’t a team, we’re a family and we’re going to be friends forever. It will just be tough not seeing each other every day.” ••