|Tipp duo makes college choice|
|Written by Jim Dabbelt|
|Wednesday, 27 November 2013 00:00|
Neither Cassie Gingerich nor Brianna Eichbaum were pleased at how last softball season ended.
After a solid regular season, the Tippecanoe softball team closed out the 2013 year with five consecutive losses, including a loss in their only sectional tournament game. Both have vowed to make things better in 2014.
Gingerich and Eichbaum have begun their promise, by making their college decision together on Monday afternoon at the high school, as each of the Tippecanoe duo signed their National Letter of Intent to make things official. Both will continue their softball careers at the collegiate level after this upcoming senior year for the Red Devils.
Gingerich has chosen to play her college softball at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, while Eichbaum will be playing at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. But for those two standout athletes, signing together is nothing new, as they have been together on the softball diamond for what seems like an eternity.
"Our dads coached us together when we were nine, and we have been together ever since," Gingerich said. Eichbaum quickly chimed in that they have played probably over 1,000 softball games together at different levels.
With that said, it is fitting that these two sign together to go their separate ways in college. Both are a key part of the success for the Red Devils, and both feel that their decision is perfect for them.
"When my mom found out who the new coach was going to be, I was really excited," Gingerich, who said that Olympian Dot Richardson will be taking over the program at Liberty, a Division One program. "That for me excited that she was going to be there, and I went to their prospect camp, and one week later, they called and offered me."
Gingerich said there were over 100 players at the camp from all across the country, and admitted that is was a bit nerve-wracking.
"It was my last shot, and on the first phone call, I kind of did an over-the-phone interview, and they got some of my videos," Gingerich said. "When I called them back a week later, they offered me."
Eichbaum's decision to go to Lee was similar, and like Gingerich, she loved everything about her new home.
"I knew I wanted to go to a Christian college, and I wanted to go south," she said, ironically on the cold, blistery day here in Tipp City. "I fell in love with Lee, and I have been to like 19 campuses since my sophomore year."
"The first time I talked to the coach and pitched for them," she added, as she also attended skills camp. "Their coach sent me an offer and I verballed on the spot in July."
Lee University has been an NAIA college in the past, but is moving to the NCAA Division Two level, meaning better things for everyone involved, including the athletes.
"Being down there, it felt like everything you would think about when you thought of the south," she said. "It was gorgeous, and I have some influential people in my life who went to Lee."
Gingerich also echoed the sentiments of Eichbaum when it came to her campus as well.
"It is really beautiful down there, in the mountains," she said. "It is a big campus, but I felt very comfortable there. Everyone is so friendly."
With both girls now signed for college, they can turn their attention to their senior year at Tippecanoe, and putting the Red Devils back on top of the Central Buckeye Conference.
""I want to have a successful season," Gingerich said, who plays centerfield and bats leadoff. "We lost some key people over the past few years, but hopefully we can prove some people wrong after the way last year ended."
Batting right behind Gingerich is Eichbaum, who handles the pitching duties for the Red Devils. She agreed they need to play well to prove people wrong.
Both girls praised their parents for getting them to where they are today.
"My dad has taught me everything I know about softball," Eichbaum said. "My mom has been such a huge support system for me, and my summer ball coaches." Gingerich also added that her dad also helped her with her hitting; now she gets help from her brother-in-law. Both also credit former summer coach Michelle Stoltz.
So after nine years or so of playing softball together at every level, they are finally splitting up to continue their careers. But something ironic about their decisions.
Gingerich will be playing for the Liberty Flames, while Eichbaum will be playing for the Lee..... Flames.
Again, they are connected by their college choice. But for these two, who would expect anything less.