Earlier this year Beaumont High School pitcher Julia Shepard committed to pitching for Occidental College for next season.
Julia Shepard started playing softball when she was 8 years-old at the recreation center in Beaumont.
“I played four seasons of rec ball, and then I went to travel ball when I was 12.
Shepard played travel ball before she was in high school with a team called Sudden Impact.
She is currently playing with a travel ball team called Semper Fi.
Beaumont Coach Frankie Fuimaoni was instrumental in developing Shepard’s pitching skills at the high school.
“When I was a freshman, I was the only freshman to make the varsity team,” Shepard said.
“He didn’t expect little things from me, because I was the only freshman. He held me up to the standard, as if I were a senior.”
Knowing that she was going to be expected to pitch as a mature player, Shepard felt compelled to meet Fuimaoni’s standard.
“He is still holding me up to hit the runs in and to pitch strike outs,” she said. “I think because he didn’t baby me, he was always hard on me. That pushed me to become a better player.”
Shepard and the team went to the semifinals in her freshman year at Beaumont.
Although the team has yet to win CIF, Shepard commented that in her freshman, sophomore and junior years the team were the league champions for the Mountain Pass League.
She is hoping to win this year as well.
According to Shepard, the softball season starts in August with conditioning and intermittent softball games to get the team ready for the upcoming season.
Beaumont High Cougars will start theirs in March.
“If we were to win league this year,” Shepard said, “it would be five years in a row that we were Mountain Pass League Champions. Winning five championships in a row is unheard of, in this league. That’s pretty awesome!”
Shepard believes that all the “Ws” and her accumulated titles helps her and her teammates when it comes to applying for different athletic programs.
“It looks good (to have all of the wins), and it pushes the girls to do even better,” Shepard said.
Her training in Beaumont has prepared her to play at Occidental.
“With Frankie, he’s a tough guy. He wants to win,” Shepard said. “You have to be tough and mentally strong to be on the pitcher’s mound.”
Beaumont catcher Bryanna Gardinier, who signed with Westcliff University this year, has been competing alongside Shepard for several years.
“Bryanna and I help each other a lot, mentally, to stay focused on our game. I’ve known Bryanna since I was nine-years-old. We’ve worked well together on the field. We can count on each other every time,” Gardinier said.
For each game, when Shepard is ready for her first pitch, she comes out with confidence and determination.
“When I play, I know that there are a few coaches watching me pitch,” she said. “When you take ownership of your mistakes, it makes you a stronger person and player. You figure out what you did wrong, fix it and move on.”
Shepard seems committed to be the best player she can be.
She is also passionate when it comes to playing as a team and giving each game 100 percent of her best.
Shepard is looking forward to her final softball season with the Cougars in March.
Winning the league title — and hopefully CIF — would be the crowning glory before she begins her next step in her softball career, at Occidental College.