Gillespie signs with Jacksonville State

By MICKEL PONTHIEUX / Sports Reporter

PELHAM – Pelham High School senior pitcher Whitney Gillespie signed a scholarship to play softball at Jacksonville State University Nov. 18.

Gillespie was named the Shelby County Reporter Player of the Year in 2012 and was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State First team.

“I am excited about the opportunities at JSU and to experience the plan God has laid out for me,” Gillespie said on signing. “At the same time I want to enjoy my senior year at PHS and help my team win a state championship. I am also thankful to God, my family, Viper softball, PHS softball and to all that have had a part in my development on and off the field.”

Gillespie received interest from Murray State, South Alabama and The University of Alabama-Birmingham, but committed to Jacksonville State because of the coaches.

“The coaches at JSU, Jana McGinnis, Mark Wisener, and Julie Boland, felt like family from the very first time I met them,” said Gillespie. “They have the same Christian beliefs as I do and I feel like I can be a part of something special while I am there”

While playing for the Lady Panthers, Gillespie was 21-6 in the circle with 166 strikeouts and five saves in 2012. She batted an average of .401 with four home runs and 10 doubles last season.

When she is not in the Pelham green and gold, Gillespie competes for the Birmingham Vipers coached by her father, Jeff Gillespie.

“I have been blessed to be able to coach my daughter and it will be exciting to see her play at Jacksonville State next fall,” Jeff said. “I’ll have my chair, my cooler, and be her biggest fan.”

Whitney said that her Pelham coaches and teammates have been supportive and have prepared her to play at the next level.

“(Playing at Pelham) has taught me that you can’t take anything too seriously and that you have to have fun with the sport or anything you love,” she said. “It has allowed me the opportunity to take a leadership role on the team and to demonstrate that all we do should be for God.”