After playing second base throughout her youth and in her freshman season, Gahanna Lincoln High School softball player Alyson Shaw was asked to switch to shortstop a year ago.
The junior, according to coach Jim Campolo, made the transition look seamless.
This spring, Shaw is combining with senior second baseman Sarah Gruelich and freshman center fielder Lauren Woodward to create an up-the-middle defense that the Lions believe will serve them well.
"I call her 'Little Bit' because she's tiny, but she's got a great arm and her range is unbelievable," Campolo said of Shaw.
"We're fortunate because we're strong up the middle with Sarah Gruelich at second base and a freshman, Lauren Woodward, in center field. With (junior Brittany) Oldaker a very strong defensive third baseman, it's kind of a pleasure to watch us play defense."
Shaw follows a recent line of college-caliber players at the position and, according to Campolo, she could be the best defensively of all of them.
Jendy Weppler, a 2009 graduate who went on to play for three years at Muskingum, was a standout at the position as a senior.
From 2010-12, Sarah Seidel started for a Lions team that earned a Division I regional runner-up finish her sophomore year and a state runner-up finish when she was a junior. She also was recruited by Muskingum.
In addition, 2011 graduate Tiyona Marshall started at shortstop as a freshman in 2008 before developing into a standout center fielder. She is a junior outfielder for Miami University.
Gahanna opened with OCC-Ohio Division wins over Groveport (6-1 on April 8), Newark (14-0 on April 9) and Reynoldsburg (10-0 on April 11) and also beat DeSales (11-3 on April 10). It's game against league-foe Lancaster on April 14 was postponed due to bad weather.
"I'm really excited about (the season)," Shaw said. "I feel comfortable knowing everyone has my back. We're better this year because we have more experience.
"I think I've gotten a little faster (since moving to shortstop). Also, coach Campolo has given me some tips to help my range such as playing deeper. He likes his middle infielders to play back."
Shaw, who is one of several key returnees from a team that went 25-7 a year ago, believes the Lions have taken a step forward defensively despite limited practice opportunities during the preseason.
Shaw became the Lions' leadoff hitter a year ago and batted a program-record 112 times. She had an RBI and a sacrifice bunt against Groveport, while senior outfielder Shelby Lowe went 3-for-4.
"Jendy was probably more along the lines of Shaw in that she's not very big but has a lot of range (defensively)," Campolo said. "(Shaw is) a pretty good leadoff hitter and an exceptional fielder. She's just a great kid, always has a smile on her face and enjoys playing softball."
Among the Lions' biggest goals is to win a league championship. The last title Gahanna earned was in 2007 when the OCC-Ohio was comprised of Hilliard Darby, Groveport, Westland, Lancaster and Newark.
After the Lions were league runners-up in 2008, Grove City, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg replaced Darby and Westland in 2009 and the Lions haven't finished better than second since.
"We're definitely ready for the season and are hungry," Shaw said. "We definitely want to win our league. (Campolo) told us it's our year."