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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shipers Doesn't Need HS Team to Succeed

Jim Ecker        

Jordan Shipers almost quit baseball. His high school in Bethany, Mo., doesn’t have a baseball team, and he’s always had to travel for practices, training and games.

“It gets tiring, traveling everywhere,” he said Sunday. “I’ve been doing it since I was 12. I wanted to quit at one point. I was younger and I was sick of traveling. I’d have to do my homework at 10 o’clock at night and everything.”

Shipers is glad he didn’t quit. “Yeah, very glad,” he said.

The lack of a high school team hasn’t hurt his career, at least not that you’d notice. He’s a 5-foot-11 southpaw with a 93 mph fastball, a nasty curve, a tight slider and a changeup. The talent scouts at Perfect Game USA think he’s one of the top southpaws in the Class of 2010 and have him ranked 40th in the country.

He’s not a big guy, but he’s got big-time stuff. “I live around 160 pounds, on a good day,” he said.

Shipers turned in a strong performance at the Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase at Perfect Game headquarters in Cedar Rapids (Iowa) on Sunday, impressing scouts with his repertoire, poise and mechanics. He seemed happy with his outing.

“Pretty good,” he said. “I’m stiff. I have a lot of stuff to work on. But overall, I think I did really well.”

Shipers has committed to Missouri State University for next year, which means he could play baseball in college even though he’s never played in high school. It’s not his fault, though. South Harrison High School in Bethany, Mo., doesn’t offer the sport to its students.

“Yeah, that’s right,” he confirmed. “We’ve never had a baseball team at my high school. The days that I don’t work and have stuff to do, I go to Kansas City and throw bullpens and stuff. I do that every Monday. And when I don’t do that, I go to a gym in our town and throw in a racquetball room and play wall-catch and stuff. I make up my own drills, pretty much.”

Shipers said it’s about a 75-minute drive from his home to the baseball facility in Kansas City where he trains. He works with a gentleman named Mark Martinez, who has been his pitching coach since he was 12. “He’s kind of taught me the basic principles of pitching a baseball,” Shipers said.

Martinez has taught him well.

Shipers has played for the Mo-Kan Giants in club baseball the last two years, giving him good exposure in summer ball. He looked into the possibility of open-enrolling at another high school that had a baseball team, but it required skipping school districts and wasn’t allowed.

Shipers said there are about 375 students at South Harrison High School, including 75 in his graduating class. That seems like enough kids to have a team, but it’s never worked out.

“We tried to get it, but it would make it unfair for the girls,” he said, “because the guys would have more sports than the girls.”

Shipers has left his mark at South Harrison High with a 3.5 GPA. Maybe some day the school will be famous for producing a successful baseball player, even though it didn’t have a team.

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