< Interviews - Mike Shenk


Big Cat: How long have you been playing softball on the Major level? #66: I have been playing on the Major level for the last 6 years. In the last 6 seasons I have played with D.J.'s Sports, Lighthouse, Ritch's Superior and last year I played for Team TPS. Before I played Major ball I played AA with Taylor Brothers for 2 years. My Taylor Brothers team consisted of Doug Kissane, Greg Harding and a few other players that became Major ball players.

Big Cat: Do you remember what got you started in slo-pitch softball?

#66: I actually started playing fast pitch softball after high school. I played fast pitch for two years and had switched to slow pitch to play with my friends. I was in a game where I came up and hit a home run in the bottom of the 7th with two outs to win the game. That feeling of winning the ball game like that just got me going and pretty soon I was addicted.

Big Cat: A lot of the public eye say that there is not much defense on the Major level of softball. I want to know what you thnk since you play both hot corners first and third base.

#66: I feel that the defense is great at that level. The whole key is to make the play on the balls that should be caught. If the ball stays in the ball park then someone should catch it. You can't give the other team that extra out. It could mean a lot more runs. I've seen teams score 20 or more runs with two outs after a ball was misplayed.

Big Cat: What advice can you give to the player that wants to improve their game?

#66: The most important piece of advice I can give someone is to take as much batting practice as you can. All the extra bp has made me more consistent in every aspect of the hitting game. My average went up and so did my total on home runs.. So to be a more consistent hitter, take that extra batting practice.

Big Cat: I see on Jay Chasteen's softball site you talk about your workouts in the off season. What single exercise would you say that you still do during the season to maintain?

#66: During the season I will go to the gym on Monday or Tuesday depending on my return from out of town. I only need to workout once a week to maintain what I have worked hard on all winter . I usually will do a total body workout. I concentrate on trying to do a little bit of everything. If I work out on Monday I will still have enough time to swing out my tightness in my next batting practice. One of the most important things for me is my raquetball playing. This keeps me going and is great for the eye and hand coordination drills.

Big Cat: What people don't know is the day that I hit the ball out of Tiger Stadium you hit a couple balls off of the facing in right field. Can you tell us what that felt like hitting in Detroit Stadium?

#66: It was totally awesome walking onto the field where so many great baseball players have played. My first swing I hit ball off of the Press Box so I said wait until I get loose. I actually was coming out of my shoes trying to hit the ball over the roof. Something that I will never forget.

Big Cat: I see where there has been a lot of musical chairs in the off season with the Super teams. How did that affect you?

#66: I felt that it was in my best interest that I should go play for the new team on the block. Chase Mortage. I think we will be right there in the tick of things at the end of the season.

Big Cat: What do you look for in 1999?

#66: I am really working hard this off season so that I can improve on my batting average to hopefully hit around .750 and also hit more home runs. To win the most prestigous tournament of the year, the Smoky Mountain Classic and try and win one or two of the Nationals at the end. Maybe even be MVP again. Ha! Ha!

Big Cat: I see where you have been a MVP of two National tournaments. East Chicago in 1996 when Lighthouse won the NSA Major World Series and 1998 in Daytona Beach where Team TPS conquered it all for the USSSA Major World Series title . Does one mean more to you than the other?

#66: I would have to say the USSSA Major World Series means more to me because that is the one people and players both remember the most. It is the final tournament of the year and it gives you the bragging rights in the beginning of the following year. What people don't realize is if Rick Weiterman didn't come in and shut down the Sunbelt offensive attack the last 4 innings we would have lost that game and I would not be the MVP of that event. So my hat goes off to Rick Weiterman for his great performance in the clutch. They don't call him Mr. Title Town for nothing.

Big Cat: What are your opinions on the bat and ball issues of today?

#66: I don't really get involved with that issue. I would hope the associations would try to regulate the balls and the bats, then they have to monitor them and inforce the penalty if there is one. I think that all the associations need to agree on the equipment.

Big Cat: Would you play with a cork centered softball?

#66: Yes.

Big Cat: How long do you plan on playing? Do you think that there is a cut-off point for a softball player.

#66: I plan on playing as long as I can. I am only 32 years old so I feel that my best years are ahead of me. I will play as long as someone wants me to help them win a national championship..

Big Cat: Are you going to have to adjust any at all with your new Easton equipment?

#66: No I don't think so. As a matter of fact I am looking forward to using the Easton C-Core and Z-Core. I was just in a tournament in Palm Springs and boy the ball really jumps off of that Z-core. It was a kind of get to know you tournament for us. We played pretty well as we won the Toys for Tots event. I think I was 23 - 31 with 6 home runs. We played the tournament at that new complex Field of Dreams. Wow ! What a complex.

Big Cat: Where do you think the Super division softball tournaments should be played at during the season? Baseball stadiums or softball diamonds?

#66: They need to be played in baseball stadiums for the simple reason that you see a much more rounded or balanced ball game. There is great defense to go along with the great hitting.

Big Cat: We know that bat speed has a lot to do with a great swing. Do you do any type of certain exercises or something to enhance your bat speed.?

#66: I don't try and do something out of the ordinary or anything like that. I rely on my workouts to get my bat speed right where I want it. I also feel that a lot of bp helps you perfect your swing.

Big Cat: Mike one last question. Is there any one thing you want to say about last year?

#66: Yes, there is Big Cat. I want to take this opportunity to dedicate the fantastic season to Dirk "The Blaster" Androff. This was a special win for the Team TPS players after what happened to Dirk last fall. You could almost feel his presence on the field when we were playing Sunbelt for the USSSA title.............There is one other thing that I want to say Big Cat and that is above everything else this was a special win for me personaly because I just lost my mother. So I say to my mother " This one was for you"



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