ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Allison Lipovsky dug her cleats in the dirt and patiently waited for the opposing hitter to put her hand down for calling time.
The crowd, which was nearly full at the Grand Valley State University softball stadium, stood on its feet awaiting what would happen next.
The fans had just witnessed Indianapolis’ Gianni Iannatone jack a two-run home run over the left-center field wall, trimming GVSU’s advantage to a single run.
Three possible outcomes could come from this particular sequence when the following pitches released from senior right-hander Lipovsky’s hand — a walk to tie the game, a hit to tie or potentially give Indianapolis the lead or the final out of the sixth frame.
Essentially, the Harrison native held GVSU’s trip to the 2019 Division II College World Series in her palm.
Lipovsky didn’t try to think about the multitude of the situation.
“I was just trying to focus on keeping my composure and going at it one pitch at a time,” Lipovsky said.
After getting ahead two strikes to one ball in the count, Lipovsky reared back and unloaded a pitch near the bottom of the strike zone.
The Greyhounds’ hitter waved and missed for the third time in the count. Lipovsky thrust both of her fists towards the ground while letting her emotion out with a scream.
She had won 30 games in the 2019 season for the Lakers going into this contest with plenty of strikeouts, 326 to be exact.
When asked if she had ever had a bigger strikeout in her tenure as a Laker, the answer was quick and short with a smile.
“No, just no,” Lipovsky said. “That was huge.”
In the end, Lipovsky earned a single-season program-record 31st win of the 2019 season, guiding GVSU (49-8) to a 4-2 victory over Indianapolis (49-17) in the DII Midwest Super Regional championship best-of-three series.
The Lakers had leaned on the pitching or their ace many times this season when games were tight. In this situation, even after giving up the homer that made it a one-run game, GVSU head coach Dana Callihan didn’t second guess leaving her in.
It was the only option in her mind.
“She’s battled through those situations all year long,” Callihan said. “The four years leading up to that situation and all the work we do in practice, working on the mental side of the game shows up right there. She’s our person, and it was her game to win or lose at this point.”
The choice resulted in a win for GVSU and its first trip to the College World Series in three years. It is the fourth time the Lakers have made it in program history.
For Lipovsky, her final line was nine hits, seven strikeouts, one walk and two earned runs on 123 pitches over seven innings of work. For the season, she finished with an 0.84 earned run average and only had two losses in 35 starts.
Her performance today came on the heels of an 18 strikeout performance the day before against the Greyhounds, allowing just one earned run in a complete game.
Lipovsky said the confidence from her coach to leave her in the game does wonders to the results she has in the circle.
“If my coaches don’t have that faith in me, I can’t have that faith in myself,” Lipovsky said. “For her to have that confidence in me, to know I’m going to get the job done in those situations, is huge.”
In the biggest do-or-die situation the Lakers had this season, Callihan stuck with her top performer on the hill when the pressure mounted.
Like most times before, Lipovsky got the job done. The only difference this time — a second trip to the DII College World Series in the last four seasons.