Show-Me baseball

Nationals third baseman Carson Shaver, left, receives congrats.

Carson Shaver falls in line with many baseball players as a superstitious sort who prefers to follow the same script. However, he doesn’t consider himself extreme.

“When things are going well, I stick with my exact routine,” the Ozark grad said. “I do everything the same and hope for good results. I plan to do that even when I’m struggling. I think that’s something that would help me get out of a slump.

“Even when things are good, though, I’ll wash my clothes.”

Part of Shaver’s routine, through good times and bad times, has been inscribing a cross on the turf or dirt behind the batter’s box prior to his at-bat. It’s a symbol of his faith in God.

“I like to play for Him and do everything I do through Him,” Shaver said. “I started doing that at the end of last summer. I think I saw a major leaguer on TV do it and thought to myself, ‘I need to start doing that.’”

The gesture falls in line with the Show-Me Collegiate League and its affiliation with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Players pray together on the field and often a player will hold a testimonial following a game.  

“You know there’s not going to be any negativity out here,” Shaver said. “You’re going tp have a lot of fun and play ball.”

Everything has fallen into place in the SMCL for Shaver, the league’s leader in most offensive statistical categories. The Midwest Nationals catcher/third baseman is hitting at a torrid pace. Entering the Nats’ matchup Friday with the Queen City Crush, Shaver carries a .607 batting average with a homer and 14 RBIs. He has six doubles and one triple. He actually started the season 1-for-7. Since then, he’s an incredible 16-for-21.

“It seems like everything is working out this summer,” Shaver said. “It’s been very fulfilling.”

In contrast, he endured a mighty slump for the first half of his senior season during school ball. It might seem hard for SMCL players, particularly pitchers, to believe Shaver was not an All-COC First-Team selection. He finished strong, but still ended with a modest .273 batting average.

“I put In so much work and in the spring, it was disappointing not to see that come into play until the second half of the season,” he said. “It was tough. When I was going through that slump, I didn’t know what to do. I had never gone through that size of a slump before. I was doing everything I could to try to get out of it. I was watching video, hitting (BP) more. It was frustrating.

“It’s fun to see all that work help me now, especially against good competition.”

Shaver struggled hitting the ball hard against high school pitchers early on because he was out in front of the 70-80 mph fast balls he saw. He’s thriving opposite 80-85 mph heat he’s seeing from SMCL pitchers.

Pitchers from the Crush, Ozark Wild and Springfield Cobras are taking note of Shaver’s surge. He’s seeing more off-speed pitching and most fast balls he’s getting are out of the strike zone.

“You’ve got to expect that when you go on a little hot streak,” he said. “They are going to do anything they can to get around you and pitch around you. I’ve been staying with my same approach.”

“He’s one of those guys I just found out about and he’s really talented,” Nationals pitcher Luke Hauswirth added. “I’ve only heard good things about thing him.”

Likewise, Shaver reports during his hot streak he’s heard good things from Missouri State coach Keith Guttin and assistant coach Matt Lawson.

“Coach Guttin and coach Lawson have been at some of the games,” Shaver said. “They’ve sent me encouraging texts. That’s been fun to see.”

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