WSU third baseman stays grounded through family

Coming from a family of multi-sport athletes, junior third baseman Shane Matheny was never pressured into playing just one game, giving him the opportunity to choose his own athletic path.

“[My parents] just let me be what I wanted to be,” Shane said. “My dad is a big golfer, and he golfs right-handed so when I grabbed it left-handed he kind of just let me do my own thing.”

Shane’s mother, Tammee, a criminal investigator, played fastpitch softball and competed in gymnastics while she was growing up, before heading to the University of Washington to get her degree in criminal justice.

Shane’s father, Daryl, who played golf for a year at Tacoma Community College, is now a golf professional and the general manager of Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton. Daryl played baseball early in his life, but bad knees turned him toward golf instead.

Shane grew up as a three-sport athlete, playing basketball, soccer and baseball. But because soccer and baseball were both spring sports at his high school, he ultimately chose to pursue baseball in the hopes of getting an opportunity to play at the collegiate level.

“[Shane] works on [his baseball skills] all the time,” Tammee said. “In high school, he was always throwing the ball against the brick of our house to field ground-balls.”

As Shane shifted most of his athletic focus toward baseball, he began to play on summer teams in high school, and with the support of his parents, they made sure he got to every game. While Shane’s exposure to high-level baseball increased, Tammee began to think that the sport might be a viable future option for him.

“The summer after eighth grade, he was invited to try out for Olympic’s [high school] summer baseball program, and it was just him as a freshman and everyone else was juniors and seniors,” Tammee said. “When you start getting written about in the paper, you know.”

Shane’s high school baseball credentials began to mount as he was made captain and lettered all four years at Olympic High School. He was also a three-time all-state 2A selection and Olympic League MVP his junior and senior year, all while leading the league in hitting at .453 his senior season. With accomplishments like these, he was bound to find a baseball scholarship.

“When Shane was offered a scholarship to play at WSU, he was 16-years old playing at a tournament in Pullman and Donnie Marbut [WSU’s previous baseball head coach] offered him the spot,” Tammee said. “When he called, I cried.”

Shane ultimately went against the grain, choosing to be a Cougar instead of a Husky like his mom. Tammee insisted her favorite moment of his baseball career was when the Cougars took two-out-of-three from her alma mater in Seattle last season. Shane went 2-for-4 in one game and 3-for-4 in another. His contribution on the field landed him a postgame interview slot with the Pac-12 Networks, in front of all his friends and family.

The junior third-baseman has gotten off to a hot offensive start this year, leading the Cougars in batting average, hits and total bases. Shane credits his strong start this season to his new mentality.

“I’m not really letting things get to me, I’m just playing free and trying to have fun,” he said. “That’s kind of one of the things I’ve forgotten my first couple years here, it’s still a game and you’ve got to have fun with it.”

Tammee is proud of her son’s start this year and credits his work ethic.

“He’s earned it, he’s worked hard all summer,” she said. “I know what he’s put into it.”

Shane has two siblings: a younger brother, Chase, and a younger sister, Zoie, both of whom go to Olympic High School. Chase is a senior and will attend Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington, to play baseball next year. Zoie, a sophomore, is an impressive three-sport varsity athlete in soccer, basketball and golf. Tammee admires the way Shane conducts himself as a son, brother and mentor.

“He’s kind to everyone and just a great kid,” she said. “He always takes the time to hang out with his siblings.”

With another son bound for college baseball, Tammee has immersed herself in the game of baseball these last few years.

“She’s a big baseball fan,” Shane said. “I think she has to be, with the family we have.”

He said Mom’s Weekend will amp up the Cougars’ intensity even more coming off their series loss at Cal.

“[Mom’s Weekend] has its merits by name, but it’s a big weekend for us coming off last weekend so I think it just adds to the importance,” Shane said.

WSU will play against Arizona for a three-game series this Mom’s Weekend. The first pitch is at 5 p.m. tonight at Bailey-Brayton Field.