From 2010 to 2013, Polson pitcher Shalaina Duford was a pain in the sides of more batters than possibly any other hurler in the history of the sport in Montana high schools.
She won three State A championships in ’10, ’11 and ’12 and more games than any other pitcher before or since. But strangely enough, Duford is out of the pitching circle now with the Community College of Spokane.
And killing it all the same
Duford, never a one-dimensional player in Polson, made the move to the outfield with the Bigfoot and hasn’t missed a beat. After starting the season a bit slow hitting .214 in limited action through six games, Duford has found her stroke.
Through Sunday, the freshman leads the team in batting with a cool .500 average and two home runs. She’s fourth in RBIs (nine), hits (15) and runs (10), despite having played in just 12 of the team’s 18 games.
“I mean she’s been batting the heck out of the ball,” said Larry Smith, her coach for four seasons while prepping at Polson. The Pirates won state title in each of the first three seasons in that span before a runner-up finish to Frenchtown this last spring.
With Duford a fixture in the starting lineup, Spokane is currently in the midst of a five-game winning streak.
As a high schooler, Duford broke Florence pitcher Kate Street’s state record for most wins with plenty of room to spare. Duford ended her career with an 85-19 record — Street was 74-12 from 2004-07.
She also had a career 1.89 ERA with 521 strikeouts while starting four straight title games.
But Spokane, where Duford is playing alongside Missoula products like Jesse Schafer (Big Sky) and Lexi Miller (Sentinel), was apparently set on pitching this season. Lindsie Scholwinski, of Coeur d’Alene, has started 10 games for the 9-9 Bigfoot with success. She has a razor-thin 1.42 ERA with 86 strikeouts, though the team is just 6-5 in games in which she’s appeared.
“She didn’t have overpowering speed and I guess in college that’s what counts,” Smith said of Duford. “Sometimes speed’s not the best. She can spot the ball real well.”
Until Duford gets that chance, you can find her in center field — raking.