AP NEWS

Her game speaks louder

April 8, 2019

It’s about 6 p.m. on Thursday evening and New Prairie’s Karissa Gilpin files into the concession stand in between the softball and baseball diamonds on campus with her coaches and some parents closing up the place, trying to escape the wet and chilly conditions after a 14-1 victory against Michigan City.

During post-game interviews, Gilpin stands a step behind teammates Carli Tharp and Kylie Briner. She’s not much of a talker when she’s being interviewed or out playing on the diamond.

“I hate these things,” Gilpin said with a pinch of a smile. “I’m not very good at them.”

Although you won’t hear her voice much, you know she’s around. Gilpin has been a key reason why the Cougars are off to a 4-0 start this season, hitting in the always-important No. 3 spot in a solid batting lineup and pitching lights out inside the circle. She pitched a perfect fifth for the Cougars on Thursday and in their second game of the young season against LaVille a couple of days prior, cracked a pair of home runs in a 17-0 rout.

“She’ll be our No. 1 pitcher this season,” Cougars coach Derek Hicks said. “She’ll bat third for us and we expect a lot of her, but she expects a lot of herself, too. You always see her swinging as hard as she possibly can. We’re working with her on not trying to try and hit it over the fence every time, but she knows what she’s doing. She’s a good player and a good kid. She’s one of our leaders even if she doesn’t speak a whole lot.”

A prime example of that was Gilpin’s RBI double off the fence in left field that got the Cougars on the board this past Saturday in a weird and wild 5-4 victory over Griffith.

After the game, Hicks pointed her out specifically in front of the team in their post-game huddle and said, “You don’t need to go for the home run every single time up. When you put the ball in play, good things are going to happen.”

With Tharp and No. 2 hitter (and pitcher) Lauren Wilcoxson continously getting on base for the Cougars in the early portion of the season, Hicks has a point. Still, Gilpin has eight runs batted in through four games, including a grand slam in the LaVille win, so she’s obviously on the right track.

″(Last year) made me more confident when I bat,” Gilpin said on a season where she hit .395 with three homers, seven doubles and 32 RBI as a sophomore. “Last year was the first time I played varsity softball all year, and I played a lot, so it really helped me out.”

Another thing that helps Gilpin out: her teammates.

She may not like everything they say at her when she’s pitching or hitting, describing much of what they say at her as “stupid” with a laugh added on top, but the laid-back, happy-go-lucky attitude the program has as a whole much of the time helps Gilpin come out of her shell more.

“They say all kind of things to get me going,” Gilpin said. “They’re annoying, but we all get along and it’s fun to play with them.”

Gilpin will have this year and next season to play for the program before having to make a college decision, one that she’s already starting contemplating. She’s made visits to Calumet College and Indiana Tech, along with keeping the junior college route open. She wants to study in the medical field and potentially become a nurse like her mother, Kim.

“I feel like it’s something where I don’t have to go to school for a super long time, but I can still make some good money,” Gilpin said. “Plus, I like older people. I think it would be fun to be able to help them like my mom does.”

If Gilpin’s nursing skills are eventually as strong as her softball skills are, money won’t be an issue.