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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Club baseball: For the love of the game

Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wes Kipley, a first baseman and left fielder on the Arizona club baseball team, has been playing baseball since he was 4 years old.

Wes’s love of the game started long ago when the ball was on a tee, and has only gotten stronger.

Being part of a club baseball team is a lot different from being part of an NCAA baseball team, according to Kipley.

“”It’s not a job,”” Kipley said. “”It’s out of love. We love to play baseball.””

Kipley is in his second year with the club, and he said his experience with the team has been enjoyable, leading to good play on the field.

“”(It’s) awesome,”” Kipley said of being a part of the club. “”We hang out on weekends. Everybody gets along, and when we come together we play the best.””

For the most part, Kipley has played left field, but an injury to the rotator cuff in his right shoulder earlier in the year prompted his move to first.

“”You have to stay more involved with the game and know (the) different signs,”” Kipley said. “”In the outfield, you get to hang out and it’s a little easier. (Playing first) you get to interact with the players, and I’m a talker. So it’s fun.””

Though Kipley loves baseball, his focus is on school. He is an architecture major, and being part of club baseball allows him to prioritize his schoolwork.

“”School’s first,”” he said. “”It’s hard to balance baseball and architecture. There are days that I can’t come to practice because I’ve got a project due the next day. It’s brutal.””

Despite his demanding major, Kipley’s performance on the field does not lack focus.

Arizona club baseball head coach Shane Folsom praised his injured outfielder.

“”Wes is a great guy,”” he said. “”He’s a hard worker. He always puts the ball in play and hits very well.””

Catcher Rittner Hufford, who leads the National Club Association with nine home runs, also spoke well of his teammate.

“”Wes is a great teammate,”” said Hufford. “”He’s always there to cheer you up and (is) solid out in the field.””

Kipley’s biggest fans are his family, however.

“”They’re here about every weekend,”” Kipley said. “”They’ll come down (from Scottsdale) just for the day. I can’t thank them enough. My mom’s here every game and my dad’s here for most of them. It’s pretty incredible. A lot of the guys are from out of state and say, ‘My mom doesn’t even know I’m playing.’ My parents are my number one fans.””

 

Kipley and the game on the line

Over the weekend, the Arizona club baseball team battled ASU on consecutive days of double headers. Arizona won three of four games.

In the team’s only loss, Kipley was the leadoff hitter at the bottom of the seventh, trailing 9-7.

“”It’s tough,”” Kipley said. “”Being the leadoff (hitter), you know that you have to get on somehow. There’s pressure.””

With the game on the line, Kipley stood at the plate and took ball one. With a 1-0 count, Kipley knew what was coming next.

“”The first pitch was a changeup inside,”” Kipley said. “”It was a ball and I knew (the second pitch) was going to be a fastball. You can guess, and I was able to jump on the ball and find a gap.

“”I knew I hit it well,”” he added. “”The wind was blowing the ball towards right field, and I knew if I could catch it (I’d hit the gap).””

After connecting with the ball, Kipley wasted no time in rounding the bags. 

“”You (start) rounding first, get about half way, look at (the third base coach) to see what he’s doing, hit second base and then look back up to him (again),”” Kipley said. “”He might hold you up at second, but fortunately he was waiving me through.””

Arizona would not bring in another run and lost 9-8.

“”You did your job, and then it’s on the team,”” Kipley said. “”That’s what baseball is. It’s not an individual sport. It’s completely the team, and you can’t do anything by yourself.””

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