Madason Shaw connected the dots early.
If going to college was to happen without being much of a financial burden, doing well in sports was the key to success.
Shaw, a 2016 graduate of Rock Falls High School, excelled well enough in high school to play for national junior college power Rock Valley in Rockford.
She received a huge payoff last month after helping the Golden Eagles win their fifth consecutive national championship. With a stellar season at the plate and on the basepaths, Shaw was named junior college Division III’s Player of the Year.
“My whole goal this year was just to be an All-American, because I got All-American my freshman year,” Shaw said. “I wanted to graduate a two-time All-American.”
Golden Eagles coach Darin Monroe called Shaw a couple of weeks after she was named an All-American for the second time. This time, the news Shaw received was much greater.
“He told me that I was National Player of the Year, and I was not expecting that at all,” Shaw said. “At first I was like, ‘What?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, you are.’ And I was like, ‘You’re lying.’”
Shaw improved her batting average by nearly 100 points from her freshman year. She hit .466 with 44 extra-base hits, 11 home runs and 69 RBIs. She scored a Division III-leading 67 runs, and did not get caught once while stealing 27 bases.
Those statistics didn’t seem possible at the beginning of the year. Shaw was slotted either in the cleanup spot, or the No. 5 spot – and sometimes hitting No. 2 – but she took off once she got settled into the leadoff spot game in and game out.
Monroe credited a tremendous work ethic from Shaw toward improving midway through the season. The Golden Eagles lost plenty of players to graduation last season, and Monroe believed that it was time for Shaw and other freshmen to step up from being “good players” to “elite players”
in order for the national success to continue.
“She’s a kid that shows up every day and wants to get better,” Monroe said. “No matter how well she’s doing, or how well her team was doing, she was always one of the hardest-working kids on our team.
“When one of the best players on your team is also one of the hardest-working players on your team, everyone else is going to follow suit.”
By the middle of the season, Monroe believed that Shaw was the type of player who could start games on a high note from the top of the batting order. During an eight-game stretch from March 23 to April 10, Shaw went 19-for-28 (.679) with five doubles, a triple, a home run, and nine RBIs; she collected two or more hits in each of those games.
Shaw also had a strong pair of back-to-back games on March 9 against Anderson’s JV squad, and the following day against Mott: she went 6-for-7 with three doubles and nine RBIs.
“That was a time where I couldn’t stop hitting,” Shaw said. “I was so confident in the box, and was just comfortable in there.”
Rock Valley punched its ticket to the NJCAA national tournament once more with a win over Joliet Junior College in the Region IV championship game on May 5; Shaw went 3-for-4 with three runs and hit a pair of doubles.
Despite not collecting a multiple-hit game during the national tournament, Shaw knew that there was going to be plenty of pressure on her team with all of those recent championships. Rock Valley was seeded No. 2 behind Herkimer, and it seemed like the Golden Eagles were going to be vulnerable.
After the first game of the championship series against Herkimer, which Rock Valley won 2-1, Shaw and others overheard a coach from the Generals say that the Golden Eagles “got lucky” that time. That soon lit a fire, and after Herkimer evened the series with a 2-1 win of its own, Rock Valley won the finale 6-2.
“When we went to the national tournament, everyone – I wouldn’t say expected us to lose – but the chances of us losing were higher than normal, because we were seeded No. 2,” Shaw said. “They wanted to cheer against you because you’re the target.”
Also on the Golden Eagles’ squad were Oregon alumna Emily Perkins and Erie alumna Emily Cox. Perkins hit .361 with five home runs and 37 RBIs, and Cox hit .511 with 48 hits and 37 RBIs in 37 games played. Teammate Breanna Crown, a Stillman Valley graduate, was named the Division III Pitcher of the Year.
Shaw will now take her talents to the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She also had entertained interest from Roosevelt University and West Virgina Wesleyan, but neither could provide Shaw with a full-ride scholarship; Missouri-Kansas City did.
“The whole reason I’ve been playing softball since I was little is so I can go to school for free,” Shaw said. “Missouri-KC was the one that could give me the most. It’s a lot closer, and they’re paying for my schooling, which is a big deal.”
Madason Shaw file
School: Rock Valley College
Position: Third base, leadoff hitter
High school: Rock Falls (Class of 2016)
NJCAA Division III Player of the Year for 2018. … Led Rock Valley College to fifth straight Division III national championship. … Hit .466 with 44 extra base hits, 11 home runs, 69 RBIs, 67 runs scored, and was 27-for-27 on stolen base attempts. … 4-year starter at Rock Falls High School. … Will play for Missouri-Kansas City next season.