As some high school seniors prepare for their own personal versions of finals—final classes, final dances, final games—Girls Preparatory School’s starting right-handed pitcher, senior Shelby Walters, is looking forward to a lot of firsts. When Walters signed her national letter of intent to play softball for Duke University (Durham, North Carolina) last Thursday evening, she became part of a brand-new sport at the university. Her goal: "It would be cool to say I pitched the first no-hitter or the first perfect game.
This September 30, Duke played its first women’s softball game—a game more than three and a half years in the making since the program was announced by the school in December 2013, marking the school’s 27th varsity sport. Walters was one of seven high school scholar-athletes to sign this year with Duke; she had an offer to play at the University of North Carolina and interest from other schools as well. "One of the reasons I chose Duke is I love the coaches," Walters says. "The're young and understand what it's like to be a player. The head coach is a former pitcher."
Although her family, coaches, and supporters just celebrated her signing with a reception Thursday night at GPS, Walters has had her eye on Duke for quite some time and had verbally committed to the Blue Devils in September 2015 as a sophomore. She amassed an amazing career as a star pitcher for GPS. She was on the TSSAA DII-AA State Championship team in 2014 with runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017. She was a Best of Preps honoree with a 1.10 ERA last season, including four no-hitters and two perfect games for GPS.
“Ever since I’ve known Shelby, she’s had a singular goal: to play Division I softball while maintaining high academic standards,” says GPS Head Softball Coach Susan Crownover. “She has worked very hard to achieve her goals with a lot of determination.”
As impressive as her softball stats are, Walters is also a standout in the classroom. A lover of science, this year at GPS she's taking anatomy, AP biology, forensics, and neuroscience. She plans to study pre-med at Duke. "You go to a school because of your scholarship but, after four years and softball ends, you need to leave with something worthwhile," Walters says. "And a degree from Duke would be great."
While Walters is excited about her senior year at GPS, she’s also optimistic about what lies ahead—being a part of building an athletic team at one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States. The GPS community is proud of her accomplishments.