Sports

Sean Lynch: Former Lady Devil making lacrosse-over

Sean Lynch
Sean Lynch Sean Lynch

With her softball days at Fresno State over, Aja Scheuber was prepared to just focus on school and finishing up her degree.

That's when the former Merced College star learned of an intriguing opportunity.

Fresno State was starting up a women's lacrosse team.

While Scheuber had used up her eligibility as a softball player with the school, the senior did have one year left to play another sport.

Sure, Scheuber had never graced a lacrosse field a day in her life, but the Bulldogs' inaugural team just needed athletes.

"I'd heard about it and there's two girls that played soccer here that were going to try it also," Scheuber said. "We each had one year of eligibility and it seemed really interesting.

"I had to go through a tryout process. It's so much fun and it turns out I'm a hidden lacrosse player."

Scheuber was one of 23 players to make the team.

Included in that group are a number of former Bulldog soccer players, golfers, swimmers and a group of former high school stars of various sports.

One such standout is former Hilmar soccer player Stefani Jericoff.

Head Coach Sue Beheme rounded out her roster with a handful of freshman and sophomores with actual lacrosse experience.

Scheuber said the team is set to scrimmage against Cal on Feb. 1 and will then host the Golden Bears in their season opener on Feb. 7.

"It's a whole different experience," Scheuber said. "My coach gave me a lacrosse stick and my first instinct was to hold it like a bat.

"I'm still picking up new things every time I take the field, but that's kind of what makes it exciting.

"With softball it got to the point where every time we played catch to warm up, I knew I was going to catch everything.

"When we play catch to warm up for lacrosse, you don't know what's going to happen."

Scheuber said Beheme and her assistants (Carlee Buck and Lindsay Gotham) have been instrumental in the team's quick development.

"(Beheme) and her assistants came from New York with a lot of experience," Scheuber said. "The coaches are awesome and are really excellent at walking us through the steps and being patient.

"For only having four months of experience, I think I've picked the game up pretty quickly."

MC athletic director Steve Cassady isn't surprised by how quickly the game has come to Scheuber.

"What I don't know about lacrosse is everything," Cassady said. "But if it's a game that requires hand-eye coordination, determination and toughness, Aja is going to excel at it.

"She's a born competitor and a tremendous athlete. It's easy to see why any coach would want her on their team."

With the start of the season less than a month away, Scheuber said the team is going through three-a-day practices in order to get into game shape.

The conditioning portion of lacrosse has been the toughest adjustment for Scheuber.

"Obviously, we did conditioning in softball," Scheuber said. "It's just different.

"Softball is more about sprinting and short bursts.

"You never stop moving in lacrosse, so it's been a huge difference."

Even three-a-days aren't enough to dampen Scheuber's enthusiasm for the upcoming season.

"I can't wait to get out there," Scheuber said. "I know how I used to get pumped for softball games and I can't wait to see if it's the same with lacrosse.

"We know it isn't going to be easy, but we also think we can surprise some teams.

"The main thing is we want to use this season to build a strong foundation for the groups of kids to come in and play after us."

Cassady sees nothing but success in Scheuber's future.

"The thing about Aja is that she thrived in the big moment," Cassady said. "In softball, there was no person you'd rather have up there with the game on the line.

"You almost expected her to come through every time.

"I can see her thriving in the same way on the lacrosse field."

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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