When Shannon Becker was just a 10-year-old fifth-grader, commanding the mound for the Empire State Huskies, she uncorked a memorable pitch she recalls to this day. It was a wildly errant toss, hurled past the catcher, past the umpire, past the backstop and onto a Scarsdale road. It was Becker’s first time playing tournament ball but it certainly wouldn’t be her last. Seven years and countless hours of practice later, Becker has learned how to locate the strike zone with worldclass precision. In fact, the Mahopac High School junior was named Thursday by Gatorade as its 2019-20 New York Softball Player of the Year, the first player in Mahopac’s storied sports history to earn the honor.
“I look back now and think how far I’ve come from that day and how hard I’ve worked to be where I’m at now,” the 17-year-old Becker explained in an interview, reflecting back on the wild pitch from a decade ago and how much she’s grown since.
The 6-foot right-hander has tallied eye-popping stats during her career but she earned national attention for her “perfect-perfect game” last spring, when she struck out all 21 Carmel batters she faced in an 8-0 masterpiece. And while she Ks batters left and right in the circle, it’s As she earns up and down in the classroom. The statewide honor — which recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, high academic standards and exemplary character — now earns Becker a spot as a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award to be announced in June.
“This is an incredible award to win, the most prestigious for a high school athlete–you’re literally one in five million, but that’s the kind of player she is,” Mahopac Varsity Softball Coach Cristina Giansante observed. “She’s a once-in-a-lifetime athlete you get as a coach; the type of dedication and commitment matched with her athletic and academic ability is unmatched. This is an award that Jeter, Manning, Osterman, Wambach have all won. To sit with those names in any conversation is an incredible achievement. That’s the stuff you dream of.”
Becker helped engine the East Cobb Bullets to the Triple Crown/USA 16U national championship last summer and was named a First Team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. She ranks as the nation’s No. 22 prospect in the Class of 2021 by Extra Inning Softball. She posted a 19-4 record with a 0.39 ERA for Mahopac (19-4) during the 2019 high school season, with 369 punch outs and just 28 walks in 163 innings. Becker was no slouch at the plate either, batting a whopping .420 with 12 RBI.