Versatile Gillespie is softball POY
By ALDO AMATO / Staff Writer
PELHAM — Pelham High School junior Whitney Gillespie’s stellar season on the mound and at the plate earned her the Shelby County Reporter’s softball Player of the Year honor.
In her first season since transferring from Kingwood Christian School, Gillespie played the utility position to near perfection. Mostly utilized on the mound, Gillespie pitched her way to an astounding 21-6 record with a 1.18 ERA.
She also played at second base and raked in 53 RBIs and a staggering .401 batting average. One would assume that Gillespie would prefer one position over the other. But the Jacksonville State commit said that she would play anywhere in order to put her team in position for a win.
“I play wherever my team needs me,” she said. “And I’ve just been blessed with a God-given ability.”
Transferring to Pelham was not an easy decision for Gillespie. She said that it took a lot of praying in order to reach her decision but she does not regret it.
“At the end of the day I just wasn’t meant to be there,” she said. “At the end of the year at Kingwood I prayed and toured Pelham and I loved it.”
After a year at Pelham, Gillespie said that she could not have asked for more as far as leadership went from Coach Amy Sullivan and her teammates.
“This year I gained a closer relationship with God and the players,” she said. “We came together as one didn’t go out and play for individual status.”
Gillespie’s father Jeff said that Whitney’s accomplishments this year would not have happened without the help from her teammates.
“I know that Whitney considers this a team award first and foremost,” he said. “At times when she was struggling, they were there to pick her up and she did the same.”
Gillespie, who is also Whitney’s coach with the Birmingham Vipers club team, said that the development and mentorship she received from Vipers founder, the late Jerry Shurbet, helped her become the player who she is today.
“He was like a father figure to her,” he said. “Every time she would come to the facility to practice she would give him a big hug. She was his ‘W’.”
Shurbet passed away from cancer in 2008 at the age of 67.
“Mr. Jerry said ‘you have to play the best to be the best’,” she said. “So I picture that in my mind every time I take the mound.”
Gillespie, who hopes to major in special education, said that there is one more thing that goes through her mind before each game; her favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 40:31.
Jeff Gillespie described his daughter as a faithful and caring individual. She, along with her Viper teammates, help out at UAB Medical Center every year.
As far as seeing his daughter improve, Gillespie said that there is only a small piece of advice that he would give her.
“I guess the main thing I would tell her is ‘you always have to work harder than anyone else’,” he said “And to always put God first.”
2012 ALL-COUNTY SOFTBALL
C – Casey Craig, SP, Sr.
IF – Destiny Dillard, CCS, Sr.
IF – Allie Luster, CHS, Sr.
IF – Caroline Seitz, OMHS, Jr.
IF – Shelby Clark, CHS, Soph.
OF – Mary Morgan Dramer, PHS, Sr.
OF – Courtney Shields, SCHS, Sr.
OF – Rachel Rigney, THS, Sr.
UT – Whitney Gillespie, PHS, Jr.
UT – Madeline Lee, KCS, Sr.
P – Caitlin Bice, CHS, Sr.
P – Morgan Reed, BCS, Fr.
P – Jana Kelbie Armstrong, CCS, Sr.
P – Kacie Craft, CHS, Sr.
Honorable mention: OMHS: Maddie Ridgway, Hannah Griffin and Leah Reeve; PHS: Becky Fox, Caitlyn Sapp and Emily Spain; SPHS: April Scott, Madi Gipson and Caroline Holmes; THS: Taylor Powell, Ashleigh Short and Savannah Gossett; BCS: Linley Splawn, Savannah Kolb and Ashlyn Boyd; CHS: Alex Osborn, Amanda Mock and Jo Jo Johnston; SCHS: Kaitlyn Paschall, Brianna Buie and Brittany Lansford; CHS: Jocelyn Davis, Katie Eiland and Shelby Wright; MHS: Mallory Anderson, Kaylee Kornegay and Alex Bolton; ISS: Caroline Malone, Jasmine Berry and Haley Payton; VHS: Tori Cato, Courtney Holston and Courtney Barber; KCS: Karley Chamblee, Kaylyn Ingram and Kendall Jonseof; CVA: Allison Craft, Hannah Vick and Jessica Parris; CCS: Brooke Calma, Savannah Upton and Destiny Upton; HCS: Lindy Walker, Abby Patton and Amanda Rowley; ECS: Jessyca Ray, Sarah Hyde and Katherine Johnson.