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Sports

Ford City outfielder earns shot to display her talents

| Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008

Ford City junior Lou Shiring's year-round commitment to softball has made her one of Armstrong County's best high school outfielders. It's only appropriate that she'll be showcasing her talents at the start of the new year.

Shiring, whose first name is actually Elizabeth, has been selected to participate in the Queen of Diamonds Showcase North. The prestigious event will be held Jan. 3-4 at an indoor facility at Kent State University.

"I was really proud of myself for making the Queen of Diamonds," Shiring said. "It was a great honor."

The Showcase brings in about 250 softball players from around the U.S. and Canada, and sometimes from across the ocean. In 2005, nine players from the Netherlands were invited.

At the event, the players are either placed onto showcase teams or display their offensive talents in batting cages for various college coaches from all over the country.

"You're kind of in a fish bowl for two days," said Lou's father, Stephen. "It's intense."

Shiring already has been through plenty of scrutiny to earn a spot in the event. After a player fills out an application to enter the Showcase, a selection committee evaluates the athlete's biography and checks references to decide who among the over 2,000 applicants will be invited.

Just 250 players are selected to the event, and only 200 are placed on a showcase team. Shiring was among those placed on a team.

"I felt like I had a shot," Shiring said. "I was pretty confident when I put the application in."

The selection was just another honor on top of a growing pile for Shiring.

The outfielder was named to the Section 4-AA all-star team last season when she helped lead Ford City to an 11-6 regular season record and an appearance in the WPIAL playoffs.

Shiring, 16, also has been a member of Ford City's Amatuer Softball Association since the team was founded six years ago. As a 10-year-old, Shiring led the 12-and-under team to a 23-1 in its first year. Over the past summer, she helped the 18-and-under team make it to the finals of the Alle-Kiski League playoffs.

Shiring will play with one of Western Pennsylvania's top clubs this summer, when she joins the Pittsburgh Spirit 18-and-under Gold team.

All of her success is setting a path to college softball for Shiring, who has been contacted by local schools such as Clarion, Indiana (Pa.), Washington & Jefferson and Youngstown State. A successful showing at the Queen of Diamonds could further boost her profile among college coaches.

"She plays with her heart every play," her father said. "I think that's what people recognize."

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