By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
College softball tests skills and strengths of first-year players and Shonna Christianson’s transition earned the former Empire player of the year a starting spot at Cal Lutheran University.
Next season the one-time Rancho Cotate ace aims to hit more after a midseason back injury kept her out of the batter’s box.
Eager to put in time strengthening and conditioning this summer, Christianson appreciates the effort needed to play the college game.
“College softball is a lot more work. You practice every day and have weight lifting every other day,” she said. “I’m excited for next season.”
The pitcher and outfielder worked her way into games on the mound. Christianson started as a reliever and moved into the starting rotation as she became more comfortable mixing pitches, with the change and drop the best complements to her fastball.
“All the teams are really good at hitting. You have to keep the ball down and hit the corners,” she said. “I started to hit all my spots well.”
Highlights included going into the seventh inning before falling to Redlands, 1-0, and shutting out La Verne, 1-0.
Appearing in 15 games, Christianson completed three of her five starts.
Where she can improve is limiting hits and increasing her ratio of strikeouts to walks.
Cal Lutheran as a team is on a learning curve. With only one senior this past season, the Regals are young and improving.
The NCAA Division III program in Thousand Oaks competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Cal Lutheran coaches expected Christianson to contribute as a freshman. Christianson expects the team to build on a strong finish this past season.
“With our ending, we’re really looking forward to next year,” Christianson said.