Hipkins completes first season of collegiate sports at Alpena
EVART — It was a busy freshman sports season for Karina Hipkins.
But the former three-sport athlete at Evart figures it’s going to get even more hectic during her sophomore campaign at Alpena Community College.
Hipkins, who played volleyball, basketball and softball at Evart before graduating in 2011, played basketball and softball as a freshman at Alpena CC.
She actually saw her collegiate debut in the fall with workouts and a scrimmage during the fall.
In basketball, “Our team was pretty good,” Hipkins said. “Our tallest girl was 5-11. We weren’t very height gifted. But we made up for it with speed and running the ball. We did set up a lot of play.”
The basketball season started out well, Hipkins recalled.
“I actually started most of the year,” she said. “Toward the end I hurt my knee and had to sit out.”
Hipkins wound up battling bursitis in her knee.
“During that time and at the beginning of softball season, I went to physical therapy; they got it to where I could play softball,” she said.
On the basketball court, Hipkins said she played just about all five positions.
“They put me anywhere, I was one of the utility players,” she said. “I was more of a passer. I started shooting more toward the middle when I had my confidence up.”
Hipkins had played catcher at Evart and started out in that position with Alpena.
“We also had another catcher,” she said. “At the beginning of the year, due to my bursitis and knee problem, I played a lot more first (base). But toward the end, once I got my knee healed enough, I caught.”
The team started off the season at 9-0.
“But then we had our rough spot,” she said. “We had a good player in each position. I batted fourth.
“Toward the end, we got our act together, we ended making the regionals for our district. We went 2-2, which is the farthest the school ever went.
“Toward the beginning, I was hitting the ball fairly well,” Hipkins said. “With my knee, I was a little on edge. That’s the knee I pivot off of. It definitely was not what I wanted.”
Her batting is something Hipkins hopes to be working on more.
“My fielding was good,” she said. “I definitely want to get a better average.”
Hipkins said she’s playing some slow pitch softball this summer.
“Right now I’m trying to give my knee time to heal,” she said. “Bursitis is something you can’t completely cure. If you stay off it...I’m kind of giving it a break this summer before basketball comes up after Labor Day.
The demands of the game is something Hipkins had to adjust to at the collegiate level.
“We didn’t get a whole lot of breaks,” she said. “We’ve been going for six months straight. Here’s a lot of demands on the body practicing every day and playing against girls that were bigger and faster than you. It was the aggressiveness of the girls.
“For softball, the major difference is how smart the other team was. In college, everyone wants to be there. They’re there to win. Everybody there has had experience in the game.”
Hipkins is hopeful of prospects for next season.
“For basketball, it actually looks really good,” she said. “We went to a team camp two weeks ago. Coach did a lot of recruiting for height. We have a couple of 6-foot and 5-11 girls now. They’re looking good. The returners are key players.
“For softball, a majority of our star players are returning. A couple we lost. The coach had some great hitters and has a pitcher throwing close to 60 (Imph) with good ball movement. We should have 50 percent or higher or winning percentage. But right now, it’s up in the air who our coach will be.”