By Derrick Mahone
After the Union Grove softball team clinched a spot in next week's Elite Eight round of the Class AAAA playoffs, the team met in the outfield for a postgame talk.
There was some occasional laughter, but the Union Grove team wasn't overly celebrating.
It wasn't as if they were not happy about their trip to Columbus, but the team has a bigger goal than just being there for the next round of the playoffs.
"Two years ago we went when a lot of these girls that are juniors were freshmen," Union Grove coach Rod Pipkin said. "We were just happy to be there. We didn't really know what to do. This year, we are going there to compete and win state."
The Wolverines definitely have the pitching to compete. Union Grove swept visiting Wayne County, 6-0 and 7-3, Tuesday in the second round of the playoffs to earn a trip to Columbus.
Sophomore pitcher Megan Betsa got both wins in dominating fashion. She had 28 strikeouts and give up only seven hits in both games.
Betsa almost had her third no-hitter and second perfect game of the season in the opening game. She retired the first 14 batters of the contest, 11 on strikeouts before surrendering back-to-back hits.
The standout pitcher said it didn't bother her to not be able to get the no-hitter.
"It wasn't a big deal," she said. "We work as a team, and we wanted to just win the game. We are not focused on individual accomplishments. We want to win state."
Union Grove broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Jordan Corbin scored on a double from Betsa for a 1-0 lead. Corbin reached on an error.
The Wolverines would score five more runs in the fifth inning.
In the nightcap, Wayne County jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first when the leadoff hitter walked and scored on an error.
Union Grove would take the lead for good in the third when Katie Spinks led off the inning with a single. She scored on a single by Betsa.
Olivia Darley, who came into the game as a pinch runner for Betsa, scored later in the inning on a double from Vanessa Buitrago.
"We feel if we play the game right, we can win this thing," said Betsa, who played on Eagle's Landing Christian's Class A championship team last season.
In the last four games, Betsa has recorded 53 strikeouts. She admitted to getting a little tired in the second game, which explains giving up three hits and three runs.
"She has led us all year long," Pipkin said. "She is a strong girl. She gets a lot of recognition."