Photo by Derrick Mahone
Union Grove senior Megan Betsa has been a dominate pitcher and hitter for the Wolverines the last two seasons.
Megan Betsa wants one more title.
The standout pitcher at Union Grove helped lead Eagle’s Landing Christian to the 2009 Class A title. The next season she transferred to Union Grove, and has been chasing another title ever since.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this season,” said Betsa, who will sign with Michigan during the November early signing period. “This may be the year.”
If so, Betsa will have a big hand in the process. She has been one of the most dominating players in the state as a pitcher, closing in on 700 strikeouts during her time at Union Grove.
At the plate, she hit .360 with 50 RBIs will hitting in the clean-up spot.
“She is probably one of the hardest working players that we have had,” Union Grove coach Rod Pipkin said. “She is a very good leader.”
With Betsa in the circle, Union Grove is counted as one of the favorites in the state.
Pipkin says there is a different mentality with the team when the all-state player is pitching.
“You can see a difference in the team,” Pipkin said. “We are a lot more confident. The game is definitely a lot more faster.”
Betsa continued to fine-tune her skills with the Southern Force travel team this summer. The team placed seventh in the nation in a tournament in California. While Betsa is the main pitcher for the Wolverines, she shares the duties on her elite travel team.
Other than a hip flexor injury during her sophomore year at the state tournament in Columbus, Betsa — who began playing softball at the age of five — has enjoyed a fairly injury-free career.
She credits her father, Howard, with her success.
“He has really helped me,” said Betsa, who also gets private instructions from a hitting and pitching coach. “I’m fortunate to have someone like my father. He provides this opportunity for me.”
Four teams to watch
Coach: Toby Evans
Last season: 14-5
Returning starters: Six
Outlook on season: It looks very promising for the Golden Eagles with a high number of players back. Evans expects the team to be improved although they are still young.
Team strengths: Evans list team unity as the biggest asset for this season’s team. He says that the Golden Eagles look to have some solid pitching and hitting. Sophomore Tiffany Taylor returns as the pitcher.
Looking for improvement: Defense is an area where the team will look to make some strides.
Keep an eye on: Four of the team’s returning starters are sophomores. Evans will also welcome a freshmen class that will see a lot of playing time, including Alanna Lewis, Breck Reeves and Daja Fletcher.
Coach: Christopher Davis
Last season: 27-9
Returning starters: Eight
Outlook on season: It was a breakout season for the Wildcats as they advanced to Columbus. With an experience team back, Locust Grove looks to make another serious run through the state playoffs.
Team strengths: Since the team graduated its pitching, Davis is hoping that the defense will come through. Since the team returns a good number of its infielders including third baseman Morgan Edwards and second baseman Tina Dexter, the team will be expected to make plays.
Looking to improve: Developing a consistent pitcher will be the key. Davis feels that the team has enough fielding to make plays.
Keep an eye on: In addition to Edwards and Dexter, the Wildcats also look for Kayla Williams (outfielder), Rachel Crews (catcher) and Lexi Longmire (outfielder/pitcher) to have big seasons.
Coach: Gidget Gue
Last season: 32-11-1
Returning starters: Four
Outlook on season: Some of the younger players will have to fill the void left by graduation. Gue said some of the younger players have looked impressive during preseason workouts. The Mustangs will play a challenging schedule to prepare for the playoffs.
Team strengths: The Mustangs returning leading hitter Jurie Joyner from last season at first base. Savannah McHellon, a junior pitcher, is also back to give the Mustangs one of the top pitchers in the area.
Looking to improve: Several younger players must step up and take on key positions. The Mustangs must overcome its inexperience at several positions.
Keep an eye on: Gue is high on freshmen Morgan Bradford (second base) and Jordan Doggett (shortstop).
Coach: Rod Pipkin
Last season: 33-6
Returning starters: Five
Outlook on season: Pipkin said the goal never changes for the Wolverines, who hope to add a state title to the trophy case this fall. Although the Wolverines will be young in some spots, he said the team is more “hungry and determined” after falling short of the championship.
Team strengths: Pitching is by far one of the top positions with the return of Megan Betsa. The defense, especially up-the-middle, will be a major strength.
Looking to improve: With several younger players in the lineup, the Wolverines will have jell quickly against a tough non-region schedule. Pipkin is hoping the team will play alittle more relaxed and not put as much pressure on themselves this season.
Keep an eye on: Junior Katie Spinks is a three-year starter, who will hit in the top of the lineup. Haleigh Vernon, a sophomore, will play third and shortstop in addition to hitting in the middle of the order.