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Seniors carry Rock Bridge softball team past Hickman

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | 11:08 p.m. CDT; updated 11:18 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 15, 2011
Whitney Wipfler, a senior infielder for the Rock Bridge High School softball team, congratulates players at the end of the game against Hickman High School on Thursday night at University Field. Rock Bridge won the game 10-6.

COLUMBIA — As she digs into the batter’s box, the sound of feet stomping against bleachers radiates throughout University Field. Her teammates lean against the fence at the edge of the first base dugout, screaming her name in unison.

“Whitney … Wipfler. Whitney … Wipfler. Whitney, Whitney, Whitney … Wipfler.”

As the pitch nears, their screams grow faster and louder. And Whitney Wipfler, Rock Bridge’s first baseman, doesn’t disappoint.

The senior had two hits and three RBIs on Thursday night, propelling the Bruins to a 10-6 win over Hickman. Wipfler says that while a rivalry game produces more emotions and distractions, it’s important to stay focused on the game.

“We call it a circus game because it’s really chaotic,” said Wipfler about playing Hickman (7-6). “There are so many different things going on. So many people come out. It’s really hard to get focused, but it’s definitely more exciting.”

Rock Bridge coach Janel Twehous credits Wipfler’s enthusiasm and positive attitude as something that helps the senior on the field and in the dugout.

“Her smile is contagious,” Twehous said, laughing. “She’s very positive. You will not get anything negative out of her at all. She’s always looking for the positive out of everything, and that’s a huge asset for her as an individual.”

Wipfler wasn’t the only senior to make an impact, though.

Outfielder Kelsey Harrington produced three hits and three RBIs for the Bruins, the highlight being a two-run home run that sailed over the left field fence in the fifth inning.

While she knew it was hit well off the bat, the senior was pleasantly surprised with the end result.

“This is a bigger field, and I figured it would just hit the fence, and I would get a double,” Harrington said. “But once it went out, I just filled with adrenaline. With all my teammates waiting at home plate, it was an amazing feeling.”

As fellow seniors who have grown up and played on teams together for years, Wipfler said she feels an added sense of excitement when Harrington, as well as the rest of her class, performs.

“It makes me feel really good. We’re a family. Our senior class is really close, and just to see us all excel — it’s awesome,” Wipfler said.

Twehous described her seniors, led by Wipfler and Harrington, as having more to offer the Bruins (13-3) than just talent and athleticism.

“Ask anyone on this team, and they’ll tell you. They’re the heart of the team,” Twehous said.

And as for the cheers that rain down on her before at-bats, Wipfler says that the ritual is something that she can’t get away from.

“It was either last year or my sophomore year, the team came up with the Whitney Wipfler cheer, and it just stuck,” Wipfler said. “I’ll be walking through the halls of Rock Bridge, and someone I don’t even know will start singing the cheer. It just happens.”

Like it or not, everybody knows her name.


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