CSUN softball star Shaylan Whitman bids farewell to her Matador teammates as she prepares to take on the Women’s Softball World Cup.

Photo by Chuck Marvel / CSUN.

Shaylan Whitman is proud and eager to represent her native country of Australia in Italy this summer.

Photo by Chuck Marvel / CSUN

Shaylan Whatman prepares to throw an out from third base in Matador Diamond.

Photo by Chuck Marvel / CSUN.

Third baseman Shaylan Whatman, an Australian slugger and redshirt senior, sat in CSUN softball’s clubhouse surrounded by colorful gifts and balloons celebrating and honoring her final collegiate home game, “Shay-Day.” She sat in front of her teammate’s lockers, one of the last times she will have this experience, reminiscing on her American softball career and what the future holds for her. 

May was a big month. After finishing her last home game with two runs, two hits and one RBI against UC San Diego, Whatman ’24 (Criminology and Justice Studies) donned a cap and gown and crossed the commencement stage May 18, bachelor’s degree complete. 

For this Aussie, July could be just as big.

Whatman will represent her native country in the upcoming Women’s Softball World Cup.

The softball tournament for national teams is held every two years with 16 teams playing in the finals. This will be the first year that this event will be played under a Two-Stage Format.

The Group Stage is set to begin on July 11 in Balbriggan, Ireland, on Day 1 of Group Aincluding Australia’s national team. 

It’s the realization of her dream to make the World Cup squad Down Under, one she’s nurtured since 2019, when she represented Australia in the Junior World Cup (before her freshman year of college).

Ten days after her CSUN graduation, Whatman flew home to begin training for her debut with the “Aussie Spirit” team, alongside seven Olympians. The team’s World Cup warmup includes competing in the Canada Cup on June 28, serving as a pre-tournament.

Journey to the States

Why American softball, so far from home?

Whatman’s career began unexpectedly at 10 years old, when her best friend convinced her to join a softball team in her hometown of Glenmore Park, New South Wales in southeastern Australia. In 2015, at 15, the pair of friends took a two-week trip touring California colleges and meeting their softball teams.

“I just fell in love with the lifestyle,” Whatman said.

The dynamic of softball in the United States, which is more demanding, was a big change for Whatman, but that adjustment has helped her grow as an athlete, she said.

“Softball isn’t nearly as big in Australia as it is in America,” she said. This was the primary reason for her big move. 

Whatman finished high school in Australia and began her college softball career at Pensacola State College, a community college in Florida, where she played and studied for her first two years, during the COVID pandemic. 

The schedule and rigorous training were the biggest adjustments, she said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been able to play a span of 50 games in such a short amount of time,” she said. 

In Australia, her team schedule consisted of about one to two games on the weekends and training two to three times during the week. Her American student-athlete experience, however, was a different matter: training five days a week and three games each weekend in season — and she loves it. The growth potential, she said, was even greater.

“Playing more, you’re also failing more,” Whatman said. 

Handling batting failure and having access to her stats, such as batting average, is something that didn’t happen back home, she noted. “Stats just weren’t recorded or shared with players if they were [recorded]. I think that may be slowly changing now but growing up, I barely knew what statistics were.”

Throughout her collegiate career, it’s been a mental challenge to overcome, and one she continues to work on every day. 

From the East Coast to the West Coast

Not quite at home in Florida, she transferred to San Diego State University — but decided to conclude her college career and last year of eligibility at CSUN.

For Whatman, the main draw was the Matadors’ coaching staff.

“I really wanted to have a good relationship with my coaches,” she said. “I had a Zoom call with all of the coaches, and I just clicked with all of them … it was a pretty easy decision.” Whatman transferred to Northridge in Fall 2022 and played the 2023 and 2024 seasons with CSUN.

Her coaches, including Head Coach Charlotte Morgan and assistant coaches Chelsea Johnson and Greg Bergeron, give her room to grow, personally and athletically, Whatman said. After moving far from her family to pursue her NCAA career and learning to fight through failure, she said, her coaches remind her that it’s not about personal results, but about the team.

Her accomplishments at CSUN prove her hard work and dedication. Last season, she had the honor of being named to the All-Big West Second Team to which she won again this season on May 15.

Back in Australia (where it’s winter), Whatman is eager to reunite with her family. she is hoping to play in the European league for a year, post World Cup. She is excited to see where her shiny, new criminology degree takes her, post softball. For now, she’s training hard and preparing to take on the world’s softball stars with a new team, eager to showcase her talents. 

“I am excited to compete and see the impact that I have,” she said. 

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