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Goddard pitcher signs with sleeping giant

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Steve Shanor Photo Matt Shanor of Goddard, pictured left, takes a lead off first base against Albuquerque Academy Chargers in state playoff baseball.

Goddard pitcher Matthew Shanor is looking forward to a big senior season on the bump. Shanor’s name will be mentioned with Justin Miller, Tyler Hardwick, Cole Wentland, Ethan Coombes, Cal Villareal, Luke Fink and Cameron Stevenson. Those are the names from the Rockets’ first team to win their first blue trophy in four tries. Not only that, but colleges and universities are reaping the benefits of that talent that has been harvested in the Goddard baseball system as they continue to play baseball at the next level.

“What I like about Matt is he comes prepared,” former Goddard baseball coach Alan Edmonson said. “Matt expects the best from himself and to work hard, he constantly pushes himself.”

Shanor signed with Wittenberg University in November. Wittenberg is a Division III school in Springfield, Ohio. The school does not offer scholarships but is known for its academic excellence and liberal arts education, with famed actor James Rebhorn graduating from there.

The difference between Division I, II and III levels of competition is Division I and II athletes can be given scholarships, whereas Division III athletes are not on athletic scholarship.

Division III athletes play for the love of the game and with no guarantees of a roster spot, and virtually have no shot at playing pro sports. Many of the athletes at the Division III level are preparing for careers in society.

“I’ve always wanted to play at the next level,” Matthew Shanor said. “It means a lot to me, on top of that, I get to play with my brother (Andrew) who will be a junior next year. Hopefully, we can have more memories and experiences together.”

Shanor follows a long line of family members that have gone to Wittenberg. His sister Katie was named Goddard softball coach on Jan. 7. Katie Shanor graduated this past May, with a degree in biology. His parents and grandparents graduated from Wittenberg.

Shanor knew he was going to go to school there, but he had to try out for the baseball team. Wittenberg calls it “Prospect Camp,” it is where athletes that are interested in playing baseball come in and try out.

Shanor has not decided what he is going to major in, he just knows that he likes being outdoors.

For the Rockets, Shanor has played outfield and will pitch. At Wittenberg, head coach Brian McGee thinks Shanor’s best shot at contributing right away and fighting for a role of contributing is for him to focus on being a pitcher. McGee thinks Shanor can come out of the bullpen.

McGee is in his second year as the Tigers coach. Last season, he was hired so late that this will be his first recruiting class. Wittenberg has three seniors and four juniors as of now, with 33 freshmen and sophomores. As coach McGee related, Wittenberg has not won a conference title in 50 years. There is an opportunity for Shanor to play and to make his mark on a program in search of talent and playmakers.

McGee thinks Wittenberg athletics and school is a sleeping giant. The university has great facilities, which rival some Division I schools. Their baseball stadium has chair backs in their seating, with their locker rooms behind the dugouts. The university is in the process of building a $52 million indoor fieldhouse that will be completed once Shanor returns from his freshman winter break. The fieldhouse will have the only 300-meter track in the country in Division III.

“Last year, we brought in a big recruiting class,” McGee said. “This year, we wanted to be more selective in the process. Matthew, being the brother of Andrew, was obviously enticing. I’m a tough coach and I want my players to reach their full potential.”

McGee had never seen Matt play and told him that he would have to try out for the team if he was interested in furthering his baseball career. The camp was called Fall Prospect Camp for juniors and seniors in high school. The camp was held on the Wittenberg campus in late October 2017.

“We were impressed enough,” McGee said, “with his skill level that he could get game experience. “I feel he’s good enough he could get on the field, contribute and get some playing time. I don’t think it is farfetched that he could be on the field as a freshman.”

At the camp, Shanor hit 83 miles per hour on the radar gun. McGee felt like Shanor was a year-and-a-half away from pitching at the college level. McGee thought that if Shanor continued to develop at the high school level and his first spring at college if he could be sitting at 83 mph on his fastball, and with a good curveball he could compete to get innings in his first season at Wittenberg. McGee was quick to point out his team has a lack of depth on pitchers.

“We’re well aware of the type of program he comes from,” McGee said. “We know what type of coaching he is currently getting and how much success they’ve had. We believe we are getting a good player from a good program. Something we are certain of is we are getting a good kid from a great family. We love his brother and his parents have been nothing but supportive.”

McGee feels like Shanor’s senior year at Goddard will play a key role in his development. What McGee would like to see from Shanor is innings on the mound, and for him to build up strength in his pitching arm.

Shanor didn’t pitch a lot during his junior year but toed the rubber a lot during his sophomore campaign, where he pitched in the state championship game. In his junior season, he pinch-hit when called upon.

“Coach was always yelling about the one run I gave up,” Matthew Shanor said. “One run we didn’t have to give up, even when the score is 15-0.”

One of his favorite memories is being on the field with all his teammates. Another of his memories was being on the same team with his brother, Andrew. Shanor attributes his success to former Rocket baseball coach Alan Edmonson who taught him to play baseball hard and with intensity.

“My family is important to me,” Andrew Shanor said. “All throughout my life I have always played with Matt. I can remember being in the backyard tossing the ball with him. Before high school, I have never had the opportunity to play with him. My junior and senior years we got a chance to play together and share the same experiences. To me, that was an opportunity not a lot of people get. It was cool for him (Matt), it means everything in the world to me. This gives us another two years to make memories together that we will treasure the rest of our lives.”

Matt Shanor has not forgotten the feeling of what it was like to win the blue trophy. It is one of his goals this season to repeat. Shanor is proud of the fact that he is an Eagle Scout.

“I got a lot of at-bats last year,” Shanor said. “I got a lot of mental game strong last season, that’s what I think I bring this year, the mentality of staying focused, staying hard and making sure our head’s in the game 24-7.”

The Rockets begin defense of their blue trophy when they travel to Carlsbad and play at 5 p.m. on Mar. 13.

By J.T. Keith
Roswell Daily Record