She idolized the Lady Rockets and wanted to be one.
Ann Marie Odum, Danielle Hooper, Mahiya Unussee, Leigh Beasley, and the rest of that team became the etching tools, engraving the Lady Rocket lore into her softball soul.
Shelby's father Ricky tells the story of the time, saying, "After Ann Marie and that team got beat by Davidson Academy, on the way home Shelby was crying and near South Pittsburg she said to me, Daddy, you know what, I am going to be a Lady Rocket and win a state championship one day for all those girls and the community."
"That about sums it up", added the teary eyed dad.
A few years later, Stinnett became only one of four Lady Rockets to start on the varsity squad in 8th grade.
The other three were Hooper, Odum, and Brianda Elmore.
Seven years after Chattanooga, Stinnett is now regarded by many as one of the top five Lady Rockets of all-time.
The Lady Rockets have a record of 115-38 and have appeared at the state tournament all fours years Stinnett has been on the varsity squad.
Forrest won the Class A state title in 2007-2008 and had runner-up finishes in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009.
Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham said, "That is how we built this program on the commitment and the backs of a few girls who have had that mentality. They were willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish a goal. Those people who have been the most committed and have strived to accomplish their goals help strengthen your program."
On Tuesday, the three-time all-state selection made her choice of colleges, deciding to sign a full scholarship offer with the MTSU Blue Raider softball program, mainly because of the loyalty she so covets.
Stinnett had several offers, but chose MTSU because head coach Sue Nevar never wavered in her trust and commitment to Stinnett when she was injured and underwent Tommy John surgery to repair her pitching arm last fall.
Stinnett never had any intention of giving up on herself after the injury, working tirelessly towards an incredible four-month recovery that normally takes up to a year.
Stinnett was in the circle for opening day last season and pitched the entire season at about seventy-five percent, leading the Lady Rockets to the brink of consecutive state titles.
Asked about the doubters and the tough road back after the injury, Stinnett said, "The fact that my mom and dad was always there supporting me and Mr. and Mrs. Cheatham were always there too was very important. You know, never give up and never give in. That has always been our motto here", said Stinnett.
Nevar never gave up either, staying firmly with Stinnett as one of her top recruits for the Class of 2010.
Stinnett talked about why she chose MTSU, saying, "Honestly, I had a bunch of people call before surgery and ask if I want to commit early. I had a surgery no girl has ever had before and they kind of gave up on me. After they found out there was no problems or complications, they began to call back."
"Not my coach Sue Nevar", said Stinnett. "She never gave up on me, she was always there and came to all my games and said she would do whatever is necessary for me to play at the next level. I respected her as a coach and a person and felt that would be the best fit."
Stinnett plans on majoring in mathematics and coaching at MTSU and said, "I plan on majoring in mathematics and minor in coaching and maybe come up here and if Danielle (Hooper) takes the head position in the next couple of years I would love to be her assistant. It would be a great opportunity to see these young girls fulfill their dreams like I did."
Stinnett's list of accomplishments during her current four-year run with Forrest is mind-boggling.
She has been the District 9A MVP the last three years and has been named to the Tennessean's Class A and Mid-State Teams during that same time span.
Stinnett holds many combined district and Forrest school pitching records, including district wins (36), district ERA (0.00), Forrest wins (95), strikeouts (925), state tournament wins (11), and her 3 all-state selections.
Stinnett's is currently tied with Kaci Clark (Brentwood) and Kim Dunlap (Ezell-Harding) for the all-time TSSAA record of 17 state tournament appearances.
Her first appearance was on May 26, 2006 as an eighth grader when she went to the circle of her dreams for the first time, throwing 2.2 innings versus Trinity Christian.
Stinnett is 71 strikeouts behind Clarks' state tournament record of 174.
Her ERA in state tournament play is 2.47.
Stinnett finished the interview, saying, "I just want to thank the entire community and the students and faculty at Forrest High School for all the support they have given me and my teammates. And a special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Cheatham for all the hard work they have put in to build Forrest softball into a program that can make players' dreams of playing college softball come true."
Shelby Stinnett's State Tournament Stats 2006-2009
|Per Game Averages||6.4||5.3||2.3||1.8||1.6||6.0|