Photo by Derrick Mahone / Union Grove softball coach Rod Pipkin resigned after guiding the Lady Wolverines to the Class AAAAA championship.
Forget the traditional coachspeak that says: “every game is just as important as the other.”
Union Grove softball coach Rod Pipkin said his fifth-ranked Wolverines know their Thursday evening matchup against top-ranked Whitewater is special.
And they are acting like it.
“They get up for this game,” Pipkin said. “They always get up for big games, and we’re definitely glad it’s at our place.”
Union Grove will have to avoid looking head to take care of region foe McIntosh first tonight. The Chiefs, while just 6-9-1 overall are 4-2 in Region 4-AAAAA.
But once that game is completed, all attention will turn to Thursday’s 5:55 p.m. contest against the Wildcats that could go a long way in deciding the 4-AAAAA regular season crown.
If you compare the two teams’ recent paths, Union Grove may feel like they’re getting Whitewater at a good time. While the Wolverines have won five straight games — all shutouts — Whitewater has dropped three of its last five.
But don’t think that’s going to give Pipkin and company a false sense of security. Pipkin said he knows what kind of team Whitewater is, and he knows what Union Grove will have to do to come out on top.
“We knew from the outset that Whitewater would be the favorite this year,” Pipkin said. “They only lost two players from last year. They are No. 1 in the state and they’re playing like it.”
Although the this will be the first Union Grove-Whitewater battle this season, Pipkin said the two teams have some familiarity with each other.
Whitewater pitcher Mackenzie Toler and Wolverines’ Megan Betsa — a Michigan commit — played on the same travel ball team this past summer, as have others, Pipkin said. Which means they all know what to expect from each other.
Betsa has been her normal solid self, pitching the last four games to shutouts, including Monday night’s 1-0 win against Pike County where she not only blanked Pike County from the mound, but hit a solo home run to win the game for Union Grove.
Pipkin knows she will have to duplicate her heroic efforts in order for the Wolverines to have a chance.
“There’s no secret she has to play well,” he said. “She knows she only has a month and a half left in her high school career, so I know she’ll be ready to play.”
Pipkin said he will also be counting on juniors Courtney Kenney and Katie Spinks to help carry the load. Pipkin said Kenney has shown impeccable leadership since taking over as catcher, while Spinks has come up big at the plate.
“I don’t know what her average is,” Pipkin said. “But I know she’s got a .650 on base percentage. We’ll need (both Kenney and Spinks) to play well to win.”
Pipkin said he is also hoping for a 10th man in the stands to help push the Wolverines to victory.
“I’m hoping lots of fans and students will come out and sit on that hill for us Thursday night,” he said.