Atkinson, Shaw making most of last summer playing baseball

Monday, July 8, 2024
Former Clay City standouts Noah Atkinson (left) and Brody Shaw (right) have made major contributions to Post 2's summer season through the first month.
Adler Ingalsbe photos

It didn’t take long for Brody Shaw to get reacclimated with the game of baseball in his Clay County Post 2 debut on June 20 against visiting West Terre Haute Post 501.

In his first at bat, the Clay City graduate saw seven consecutive breaking balls. And then the first ground ball hit to him at shortstop caught the lip of the grass, causing the charging middle infielder to take the bad hop to the face, which resulted in a badly cut upper lip.

“That was a very good ‘welcome back’ moment. I thought I knew every hop on this field, but I guess I didn’t,” Shaw said with a laugh. “I took a year off from here and got a few new hops to get adjusted to.”

Standing a few paces to his right when he was bloodied in the top of the second inning? Noah Atkinson, Shaw’s former high school teammate and lifelong best friend.

The pair of Clay City graduates were asked to join Clay County’s American Legion team by first-year manager Nathan Stoelting during the spring.

For Atkinson, it was a no brainer.

“I just wanted to come back and play with all of my friends again. I didn’t get the opportunity to play in college, so getting the chance to come back and play with all of my best friends again, that was something I was glad I was able to do,” said Atkinson. “I’ve had a lot of fun. There isn’t anything I’d trade in the world to do it again. I’d keep coming back until I was 30 if they’d let me. I’ve been playing with these guys since I was little, so it’s been great to do it again.”

It wasn’t as easy of a decision for Shaw.

After going through the fall season at Vincennes University, the infielder and right-handed pitcher was used sparingly in the spring. It drained Shaw’s love for the sport he’d been playing for most of his life, so he was unsure if he wanted to get back into it.

But after a long discussion with his father, Larry, Shaw recognized the unique opportunity to return to the field for one last summer before entering the ‘real world.’

“I really started to hate baseball when I felt like it was becoming more like a job. I wasn’t enjoying it like I used to when I was growing up,” said Shaw. “I sat down and talked with my dad about this, and we decided it would be a good decision to come back out and play with my friends again and end my baseball career having fun instead of going to college and hating it and ending it that way.”

But before Atkinson and Shaw agreed to Stoelting’s offer, there was one non-negotiable they wanted from the Post 2 manager.

After serving as assistant coaches on Clay City’s staff during the spring, they were coming ‘out of retirement’ and becoming teammates with several of the players they were instructing less than one month earlier. Atkinson and Shaw didn’t want Stoelting or Post 2 assistant coach Andrew Kreiger to view them as quasi-coaches. They wanted to be treated the same way as the other players on the roster, and Stoelting happily granted their wishes.

“This [situation] is a little bit different, but I talked with Nathan and said, ‘I don’t want to be treated any differently. I want to come back and play the game and be a kid again. I don’t want to be treated like I coached them. I want to come in here and boss anyone around and be a [jerk]. I’m here to play the game. I’m their teammate, I’m not their coach right now,’” said Shaw. “You just have to flip the switch again.”

“It was fun coaching them. It was a fun season. We had a good time, but being able to come back and play with them was something I’m glad I’m able to do now,” said Atkinson. “Like Brody, I told Nathan when he asked me to play that I wanted to be treated like a baseball player again and not as a coach. It’s been a good time.”

Having such a long time in between playing in a game – a few months for Shaw and over a year for Atkinson – meant there would be some rust that had to be shaken off upon their arrival to the team, which they’ve been able to do over the course of the first few weeks of game action.

“It’s been a while, so I’m a little sore, a little out of shape but I’m getting back to it and am feeling better than what I was feeling,” Atkinson said. “It’s all about getting reps, and even more importantly, stretching.”

“It’s not like I’m heavier or anything like that. I’m the same weight I was last year [as a senior]. The biggest thing is my stamina. I work from 8-5 every day, working like crazy getting crops in the field,” Shaw said. “The shoulder and elbow felt it a little bit [at the start of the summer], but it’s good to be back.”

Stoelting agreed with the pair, pointing to their willingness to come back and help Post 2 with their veteran leadership on the field and in the dugout. It’s helped put the group in a strong position midway through the season.

“These two love baseball. They absolutely love it. I think if there was no legion team at all, they’d still be down here throwing because they just love baseball,” said Stoelting. “I was kind of catching up with them [during the spring] and they were like, ‘Don’t worry, coach. We’re throwing and swinging. We’ll be all right.’ I would think when they first stepped out here, they’d say things were a little rusty when they got into game speed, but they’re coming along. We’re going to keep using them.”

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