Fighting like Sisters

Softball team

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

Shelby Weeks and Jessica Garcia have known each other since 14, came to OSU together and became starting outfielders as true freshmen

For being extremely close friends, Shelby Weeks and Jessica Garcia fight a lot.

They first met when joining the same club softball team at age 14 and quickly created a close bond, eventually becoming teammates and roommates at Oregon State.

Both earned starting spots as true freshmen this year in right field and center field, respectively, and have helped put the Beavers on pace to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Sometimes, though, the connection between the two central Californians descends into a mini melee.

“They fight all the time. They just constantly fight,” said senior second baseman Mikela Manewa. “They’re literally like sisters.”

Weeks and Garcia are quick to point out, though, that this fighting is always short-lived. The two passionate softball players are quick to make up and usually the fighting is more of a playful, pranking type rather than real bitterness.

“Just the other night I woke her up out of mid-going-to-sleep by pulling her covers,” Weeks said with a laugh. “She came over and wrestled me on the bed. I was just fooling around, though, and it was funny.”

“There’s times where we’ll bicker, but it’s not a fight,” Garcia said. “We’re obviously going to bonk heads and stuff, but I’ve known Shelby for so long, there’s times where we don’t even need to talk to know whose ball it is [in the outfield]. I can just say, ‘Shelby,’ and she’s already there.”

Weeks first committed to OSU as a sophomore and Garcia followed suit not long after. This season, Weeks and Garcia transitioned smoothly into Division-I softball; both have started all 44 games this year for the Beavers, handling two of the starting outfield positions while committing just three errors all season combined. Weeks in particular has been a force at the plate, posting a .357 batting average that ranks second on the team as well as a team-leading 33 runs scored. Together, Weeks and Garcia account for 19 of the team’s 49 stolen bases.

“It’s been really fun to see them grow,” said head coach Laura Berg. “They still have room for improvement, like we all do. But it’s been really fun to watch them play.”

“They’re super hard working obviously, since they’re starters,” Manewa said. “I’m actually pretty jealous of them because they’re both so close, they both are at the same school together, and they have three more years together. They have a lot of potential. They’re going to do big things.”

Their friendship is bigger than what they contribute to the OSU softball team, though. Both place a high value on living together at the same school and maintaining the close-knit bond they’ve cultivated the last five years.

“Jessica and I are always together,” Weeks said. “We’re always doing crazy stuff together. We just have that sister bond. We’re really close off the field and on. Living together is really cool, having that experience and knowing I’ll always have that one person I can depend on.”

“Playing next to her, it just feels comfortable,” Garcia added.

Besides everything else they have in common, Weeks and Garcia are two of the tallest players on the team at 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10, respectively. They’re also both slap hitters and are capable fielders as well.

“We’re almost the same person at times,” Garcia said.

On the other hand, both come from different backgrounds. Garcia was the do-it-all athlete in high school; she turned down the chance to join the soccer and track teams at Hughson High because she was already committed to three other sports. Weeks started playing softball at age eight and never got distracted, playing volleyball for just one year of high school and competing on the track team for one year — but even that was to help develop quickness for softball season.

“Jessica has always been the more athletic one, always wanting to do more,” Weeks said. “She’s that type of person, and I’m more of the laid-back type.”

Garcia earned some non-softball recruiting from college coaches based on her four all-league selections between volleyball and basketball, but she couldn’t choose against softball. The left-handed batter notched a .636 average her senior year, earned Cal-Hi All-American honors and capped off her career with her fourth consecutive section championship. Not that all her accolades were limited to athletics; she also was her senior class representative.

Weeks was a three-time all-league selection at Merrill F. West High School in Tracy, Calif. and batted above .535 her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Now, the 18-year-old is in the top-five at OSU in batting average, on base percentage, runs scored, hits, triples, walks, stolen bases and fielding percentage.

The Californian duo has a lot on the horizon. OSU will likely make the postseason this year for the first time in three seasons and Garcia and Weeks have three more years afterwards to replicate that success.

“The more experience we have together, the more we can grow from it,” Weeks said. “Just knowing where we started from and where we should finish, it’s mind blowing how good we can be and how much talent all of us have.”

One thing is for certain: they’ll remain close friends throughout their time at OSU and beyond, fighting and all.

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