Setting Saile: Sophomore pitcher moves into leadership role

Sophomore pitcher Shannon Saile (6) hurls out a pitch in the Felsberg Inviational this past weekend at the FIU Softball Stadium. (Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics)

By Brett Shweky/Sports Director


With South Carolina scoring their first run in the seventh inning and challenging the Panthers’ 3-1 lead, sophomore pitcher Shannon Saile struck out the final two batters for the Gamecocks to stop the opposition’s threat and conclude the game.

She ended the game tying her career-high in strikeouts with 15, let up four hits, and allowed only one run. Her performance on Saturday, Feb. 10 helped lead the Panthers to a (2-2) record in the second day of the Felsberg Invitational at FIU Softball Stadium.

The sophomore ace continued right where she left off last season, as Saile had one of the most successful freshman campaigns in program history.

As a freshman, she led the conference with a 1.51 ERA, held opposing hitters to a .151 batting average, and averaged 8.1 strikeouts per seven innings. She was tied for the league lead with eight shutouts and concluded the year with 240 total strikeouts, which was second in the conference.

Saile became the first FIU softball player to be named First-Team All-Conference Pitcher.

The Land O’Lakes High School alumna explained the potential obstacles a player will go through while transiting from high school to college.

“The faster pace, the bigger hitters, relying on my team as much as I can are some differences I’ve noticed so far,” said Saile during her freshman season. “In high school, you don’t really have the outstanding outfielder that you would in college, my fielders have really been backing me up and that always makes a difference throughout any game.”

The Conference USA Freshman of the Year started out the 2017 season with a 4-5 record, however after adjusting to the collegiate level, Saile finished out the regular season and the conference tournament with a 9-1 record. She even tied the school record for wins in a row with nine.

Now a sophomore, Saile discussed her relationship with the freshmen and how she has embraced a leadership role.

“I’m actually really close to the freshmen,” said Saile. “The freshmen have really stepped up this year and I enjoy being a leader for them.”

Saile’s leadership along with the other upperclassmen on the team will be crucial because of the important roles the freshmen will play this year. This past weekend at the Felsberg Invitational, FIU featured seven different freshmen during critical moments.

“We have a good 5 or 6 that we know are solid,” said Panthers’ Head Coach Gator Rebhan, following the first day of the Felsberg Invitational. “Right now we have a couple of young girls battling to see who’s going to take over certain positions.”

While in the offseason, the sophomore ace worked towards improving the mental aspect of her game.

“I worked on my mental side of the game. Last year I lacked the mental side and I think that’s where I would fall in some games,” Saile said. “But now I feel like I’m a lot stronger in that part of the game. I no longer let the stupid little runs or hits get in my head anymore.”

To start the 2018 campaign, Saile has already found great success.

In her first game of the year, Saile broke her career-high in strikeouts with 15 and secured the victory for the Panthers by only allowing four hits and one run. She followed up her first 15-strikeout performance with yet another on Saturday against South Carolina, leading FIU to their second win of the season.

C-USA named her the first Pitcher of the Week for this season, following her stellar performance this past weekend. Last year, Saile won the accolade four times in 11 weeks.

Next up for the softball team, they will travel to Las Vegas, NV to participate in the Marucci Desert Classic. The opening-game for (2-4) FIU will be against the (2-3) Utah State Aggies on Feb. 16 with a 12 p.m. start time.

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