McSheffery, McCullough rave about All-Star experience
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

July 7, 2004 -- NORTH RICHLAND HILLS - It's not often a softball player can got 0-for-3 at the plate and still come away talking about what a great experience she had.

But, then again the TGCA high school All-Star game, for graduating seniors only, comes around just once in a lifetime.

Sulphur Springs' Melissa McSheffery started at third base for the East Team Tuesday night in their 3-1 victory over the West at the Birdville ISD field.

Fans ringed the field for the game, which showcased 30 players selected by the Texas Girls Coaches Association as the best at their positions at the Class 4A -5A level. The lower-classification game was held beforehand with the East winning that one also, 7-1.

In the big-school game, McSheffery had just one fielding chance - she caught a foul pop in the fifth inning - and wasn't able to come up with a hit against University of Texas-bound Meagan Denny of Crowley, who started, and Jenna Schlabs of Hereford. But, she was more excited about the whole experience of spending three days in the company of some of the best high school players in the state.

"It was awesome. I really enjoyed playing with a lot of these girls who are going to higher-level colleges," said McSheffery, who has accepted a scholarship from St. Edwards University in Austin. "It was a really good experience. It was good to play with them.

"My favorite part was getting to know the other girls, learning stuff from them and just hanging out with them. Coming together in two days as a team is pretty hard to do most of the time, but it was pretty easy this time."

The East team didn't make an error in the well-played game and were led at the plate by Texas A&M signee Jamie Hinshaw of Fort Bend Elkins, who had an RBI triple, two walks and was named the MVP of the game. They also received outstanding pitching performances from Magnolia's Amanda Scarborough, who is headed to Texas A&M, and Humble Kingwood's Elizabeth Fuentes, going to UT-Arlington, as they combined on a four-hitter.

McSheffery was joined on the team by SSHS head coach John McCullough, who was the first base coach at the All-Star game.

"When you're with the best players in the state, and just to be able to work with them and be around them, has been an honor and it's been a blast," McCullough said. "It's been a great week.

"Because they are all outstanding softball players, they have that in common, and then they just all got along really great together. After one practice, they were practicing like they had been together forever. It's a great group of young ladies. It's been an outstanding week to watch them work and play."

McSheffery said even though it was just an exhibition game, there was a high level of intensity, which multiplied itself by the number of fans. An attendance figure was not released, but it was standing room only.

"There are a lot more people than at a high school game, and there's a high level of intensity because you're playing with top-notch players," she said. "But, once you got out on the field, all the butterflies went away."

McCullough said the team had great practices. They worked out twice on Monday, once on Tuesday morning and were scheduled for an awards luncheon on Wednesday. The girls were not allowed to drive and took part in their activities and meals as a team.

"They got the evenings where they got to go to the Rec Center and swim. Other than that, it's been pretty much softball, but that's what they are here for," McCullough said. "They're the best in the state, and they get to show their skills here. It's been a great week for them."

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