SANTA FE – Having an older sister who helped the school’s softball team win a state championship is unquestionably a tough act to follow.
Although she didn’t complete that ultimate task this year, Santa Fe pitcher Shelbi Sunseri — the The Daily News’ Player of the Year — is certainly off to a promising start.
Plus, as just a freshman, Sunseri will get three more cracks at bringing a state title home to Santa Fe, just like big sister, Ciara.
“Definitely winning state is a goal of mine,” Shelbi said.
While the two sisters share the same No. 17 jersey, they contributed to the Lady Indians in vastly different ways.
Ciara was a big-hitting first baseman, who hit a tiebreaking three-run double in the 2011 state championship game.
Shelbi has become Santa Fe’s ace pitcher, and in her freshman season dazzled from inside the circle as she compiled a 21-7 record in 30 appearances. She had an ERA of just 1.41 with 269 strikeouts.
Shelbi was no slouch inside the batter’s box, either, with the team’s fourth-best batting average at .336. She led the Lady Indians in RBIs with 25 and tied for the team lead with three home runs.
The unwavering support of her teammates, Shelbi said, played a major role in giving her the confidence to step up as a leader in her first year of high school softball.
“Having the team behind me and knowing they had confidence in me and knowing that whatever happened, they had my back,” she said.
Shelbi said she also drew strength from her faith in a higher power. Before the first pitch of every inning, she would say her favorite Bible verse — Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” — as she leaned over to draw a cross in the sand inside her pitching circle.
“It just reminds me that I can do all things through God, no matter what situation I was in,” she said.
Lady Indians head coach Trish Leidy said that, in addition to her physical gifts as a pitcher, Shelbi leads the team by showing great poise as she goes to work inside the circle.
“She being on the mound and showing confidence out there is big,” Leidy said. “She has to trust her teammates as much as her teammates have to trust her. She shows great confidence out there, and her teammates behind her show great confidence in her, as well.”
After ending the season as District 24-4A champions, the Lady Indians won playoff series against Lamar Consolidated, Tomball Memorial and then-No. 5 state-ranked Angleton before having their season ended by eventual state semifinalists — and, at the time, the undefeated state’s No. 1-ranked 4A team — Barbers Hill in the regional semifinals.
Shelbi pitched every inning of all eight of Santa Fe’s playoff games. She played in all 35 games for the Lady Indians and pitched in all but five of them during their 25-10 campaign.
Player of the Year: Shelbi Sunseri, freshman, Santa Fe
Offensive Player of the Year: Amber Pufal, senior, Clear Falls
Defensive Player of the Year: Madison Wadyka, senior, Clear Creek
Coach of the Year: Trish Leidy, Santa Fe
P: Shelbi Sunseri, freshman, Santa Fe
C: Haley Chavez, sophomore, Santa Fe
1B: Tori Hatten, junior, Clear Falls
2B: Madison Wadyka, senior, Clear Creek
3B: Amber Pufal, senior, Clear Falls
SS: Taylor Troutt, senior, Clear Falls
OF: Kaylee Barnes, senior Friendswood
OF: Riley Bullen, senior, Clear Creek
OF: Madison Ulmer, senior, Clear Falls
DP: Kayla Tisdale, freshman, Santa Fe
P: Courtney Weber, sophomore, Friendswood
C: Dani Elder, freshman, Clear Springs
1B: Brittany Woods, senior, Friendswood
2B: Sidney Gomez, senior, Texas City
3B: Mycahla Howard, junior, Santa Fe
SS: Angelica Gonzalez, senior, Dickinson
OF: Rachel Bobo, senior, Clear Falls
OF: Madison Michna, senior, Clear Falls
OF: Erin Palmer, senior, Santa Fe
DP: Katy Sawyer, junior, Clear Creek
P: Cali Dolfi, freshman, Ball High
C: Allie Rich, freshman, Clear Falls
1B: McKenna Zinke, sophomore, Clear Springs
2B: Courtney Clark, sophomore, Santa Fe
SS: Doris Smith, sophomore, Ball High
3B: Treslyn Ortiz, sophomore, Texas City
OF: Madison Demers, freshman, Clear Falls
OF: Kayla Fielder, freshman, Clear Springs
OF: Alicia Owens, senior, Santa Fe
DP: Kaitlyn Pace, sophomore, Clear Springs
MVP: Whitney Walton, Brazoswood
Newcomer of the Year: Dani Elder, Clear Springs
Coach of the Year: Laura Oltman, Brazoswood
P: Madison Philips, Brazoswood
C: Allie Rich, Clear Falls
1B: Tori Hatten, Clear Falls
2B: Madison Wadyka, Clear Creek
3B: Amber Pufal, Clear Falls
SS: Taylor Troutt, Clear Falls
OF: Kelby Lanier, Brazoswood; Gennel Ortiz, Brazoswood; Madison Ulmer, Clear Falls; Madison Michna, Clear Falls; Riley Bullen, Clear Creek
Utility: Rachel Bobo, Clear Falls
DH: Katy Sawyer, Clear Creek; Kaitlyn Pace, Clear Springs
At large: Sarah DeCarolis, Brazoswood; Alex Held, Clear Lake
P: Kennedi Fisher, Brazoswood
C: Kalyn Ramber, Clear Creek
1B: McKenna Zinke, Clear Springs
2B: Payton Vanderford, Clear Lake; Jaclyn Molenaar, Clear Brook
3B: Brittney Wingate, Clear Creek
SS: Angelica Gonzales, Dickinson
OF: Monica Asuncion, Clear Brook; Kayla Fielder, Clear Springs; Maddison Demers, Clear Falls; Vanessa Gonzalez, Clear Creek
Utility: Kimber Cortemelia, Brazoswood
DH: Kaitlyn Tawater, Clear Lake
At large: Laura Napoli, Clear Brook; Bethany Partlow, Brazoswood
Kristan Deitz, Dickinson
Destiny Melendez, Dickinson
Misty Muniz, Clear Falls
Brooke Wilhite, Clear Falls
Ayanna Meyers, Clear Lake
Maddie Wolken, Clear Lake
Allie Gier, Brazoswood
Alissa Chavez, Clear Brook
Carlie Cumpton, Clear Springs
Andrea Hern, Clear Springs
Brittany Crowley, Clear Creek
Kaitlyn Bertot, Clear Creek
MVP: Shelbi Sunseri, Santa Fe
Newcomer of the Year: Cali Dolfi, Ball High
Offensive Player of the Year: Rylee Rodriguez, Dawson
Defensive Player of the year: Jill Guse, Dawson
Utility Player of the Year: Heaven Benavidez, Dawson
Coach of the Year: Trish Leidy, Santa Fe
P: Kelsey Stewart, Goose Creek Memorial; Courtney Weber, Friendswood
C: Haley Chavez, Santa Fe; Ashley Langston, Dawson
Infield: Sierra Miller, Baytown Lee; Erin Pequeno, Goose Creek Memorial; Brittany Woods, Friendswood; Sidney Gomez, Texas City; Treslyn Ortiz, Texas City; Mycahla Howard, Santa Fe
OF: Erin Palmer, Santa Fe; Kaylee Barnes, Friendswood; Jami Garcia, Goose Greek Memorial; Kursten Jaime, Baytown Lee; Niki Turner, Dawson
DP: Kayla Tisdale, Santa Fe
P: Keely Thompson, Texas City; Megan Stone, Dawson
C: Doris Smith, Ball High; Breyn Pulcher, Goose Creek Memorial
Infield: Courtney Clark, Santa Fe; Angela Fancett, Friendswood; Rose Sullivan, Dawson; Kjirstyn Murphy, Goose Creek Memorial; Baylee Malone, Dawson
OF: Shelbi Doherty, Santa Fe; Hallie Phillips, Santa Fe; Olivia Jackson, Friendswood; Taylor Stricklin, Goose Creek Memorial; Kyrie Muehe, Ball High
Alicia Owens, Santa Fe
Rebecca Hernandez, Baytown Lee
Ashlen Cantu, Baytown Lee
Savannah Hartman, Friendswood
Madison Hughes, Friendswood
Angela Scott, Ball High
Rosa Hernandez, Ball High
Maddie Herrera, Goose Creek Memorial
Lacey Smith, Santa Fe
Cayla Bjerke, Texas City
Miranda Sheridan, Texas City
Janet Cuellar, Galena Park
Alexis Torres, Galena Park
Alexis Valdez, Galena Park