Pitchers have a tendency to love playing with Edina catcher Shannon Petersen, largely because she loves catching. And most pitchers understand how vital a good catcher can be to her success.
Take, for example, Petersen’s ability to coax strikes. The senior, who has committed to play at Augustana (S.D.) next year, has worked hard to master the technique of framing pitches, making each pitch look like a strike.
“The secret is something one of my catching coaches taught me: sway and stick,” she said. “When you’re in the crouch, you sway back and forth on your ankles and when the ball hits your glove, you stick. It makes it look like the pitcher hit the exact spot she was aiming for.”
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Petersen about Edina’s chances this spring, the end to her hockey career and her secret love.
Q: All that swaying and sticking must be rough on the legs.
A: When I first started, my legs used to hurt so much afterward. Now it’s become habit and I’m used to it.
Q: What do you like about being a catcher?
A: It gives me the chance to be a leader. You can see every position and every runner. You can plan out the pitches based on what the strengths and weaknesses of the hitters are. You’re kind of the captain of the field.
Q: What can we expect from Edina?
A: We had so many players graduate that I’m not expecting too much. We’re a very young team. I’m excited to see what these younger girls can do.
Q: Does that mean more responsibility for you as a senior and a catcher?
A: Yes, but I like trying to help people get better every day. It will help me learn so much about being a leader.
Q: What’s the most important thing you can pass along?
A: Confidence to our pitchers. Every really good pitcher has confidence in big situations. You’ll never get good enough without it.
Q: You also played hockey this year, didn’t you?
A: I’ve played both hockey and softball since I was really young. I played goalie. That makes sense, right? Catcher and goalie go together.
Q: How did the season go?
A: We made it to the state tournament, which was absolutely amazing. I was the backup goalie, so I didn’t play, but I was ready to go and did a lot of cheering.
Q: What was your impression of Xcel Center?
A: When I hit the ice for warmups, the rink seemed a lot smaller than usual because the stadium is so big.
Q: I assume you’re done playing hockey now?
A: I love both sports, but I love softball a little bit more and I’m better at it. But I’m glad I got the chance to play hockey for one more year. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: Why Augustana?
A: I’ve played softball for the [Minnesota] Renegades for five years. When I was on the U13 team, we had a coach named Mike Mook. He’s an assistant coach at Augustana. I’ve gone to a lot of retreats and so many camps there. It’s a wonderful place.
Q: What is one thing you can’t take the field without?
A: As a catcher, sometimes the pitches come in so hard that your thumb gets bent back. So I wear a thumbguard. I can’t go out without it.
Q: What is one thing few know about you?
A: I love the band program at our school. I don’t think my softball friends know I’m a band geek. Every experience I’ve had with the band has been really fun.