Life-Changing Events Alter Shannon Haddad's Softball Course
Entering 2020, Shannon Haddad was just excited to play Division I softball. The right-handed hurler was doing excellent things at San Jose State. With a record of 11-3, a 1.00 ERA and four shutouts, Haddad earned her way to All-Mountain West honors in the spring. But she’d probably trade that accolade if it meant she got to finish her season.
Once the 2020 season was halted, Haddad’s life started to alter. She had a change of heart in the school she wanted to be at. Long Beach State was closer to her home of Simi Valley in Calif. In May, her boyfriend, Kyane Schmidt, a member of San Jose State’s football team, was in a serious car accident.
That’s when it clicked for Haddad.
“I think I took life for granted a little bit,” Haddad told Softball America in a phone interview. “When that happened, it flipped a switch for me. It really makes you realize how grateful you are for life and everything.”
According to Haddad, Schmidt has done amazing in his recovery. For Haddad going forward, it’s just about her reset at a new school, a new season and a new view on life. She gets to do her freshman year all over again, and that’s a fun idea to her.
“This transition for me has been really easy,” Haddad said. “Not many people get the opportunity to be a freshman again. It’s really interesting, I get a shot at my freshman records again and I’m excited for that.”
Kim Sowder’s staff at Long Beach State was appealing to Haddad. Assistant coach Kevin Castillo plays on Team USA’s men’s national fastpitch team. Haddad is used to that approach because her personal pitching coach, Rob Schweyer, plays fastpitch softball.
“That style is what I want to keep working with more,” Haddad said. “They know all their stuff with pitching over there. I really like that Coach Sowder and (associate head) Coach (Panita Thanatharn) have been in the game for years and that experience is what I really like.”
Haddad was also able to see Long Beach State’s competitive edge first-hand. She was able to guide San Jose State to a 4-3 win over Long Beach State in 2020, but she really had to work for it. But Haddad loved that since she loves to compete, which is a major reason she loves to pitch.
Her mix of rise balls, curves and drop balls led to great individual success last season. More importantly, it helped her team win more games. For Haddad, that’s the best part of softball.
“It’s so unique to throw certain pitches that end up being effective,” Haddad said. “When you’re winning with your team, that’s just the best feeling. When someone makes a great play or (gets) a clutch hit, that’s just amazing. I loved being involved and seeing that.”
Everything is in place for Haddad to flourish at Long Beach State. There have been challenges with COVID-19 in the way. Workouts at home are challenging, but luckily, she’s been able to work with Schweyer during this time to prepare for her fresh start in 2021.