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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Madison Shipman Steps Into Justin's World for Team COMBAT

Madison Shipman is one of the best-known names to reach the National Pro Fastpitch league in recent history. The three-time all-American is already cemented among the lore of Lady Vol legends.

(c) Kevin Gregory
Shipman's senior season of 2014 was undoubtedly a stellar climax and fitting end to her collegiate career. At various points in the postseason, she earned the Honda Sports Award; the Senior CLASS Award; was named SEC Player of the Year, as well as first-team all-Conference and all-American.

Drafted #2 overall by the Pride following said stellar season, Shipman rode her hot streak into her pro career with a .344 batting average and five home runs en route to Rookie of the Year honors.

In a move to free up some roster space just prior to this year's draft, Shipman and fellow infielder Brigette Del Ponte were shipped from the Pride to the team's rookie franchise, the Scrap Yard Dawgs.

Now the first base coach for the Lady Vols, back to her alma mater, Shipman has become a cult favorite for her tradition of handing out Skittles to every runner that reaches first base.

Having recently come out with her own product line under the COMBAT brand, Shipman dished on her partnership with the company; her Skittles dispensary; and her time in the NPF. Be sure to read past the interview for our thoughts on one of the Shipman-monikered bats.

Justin’s World: What are your long-term plans when it comes to playing in the NPF? Is it something you could see yourself doing long-term?
Madison Shipman: As of today, I want to play softball as long as my body will allow me to. I love the game and I can't imagine stopping anytime soon! 

Justin’s World: Talk to me about your coaching career - obviously, you're still at UT, but do you intend to coach collegiately long-term, possibly even as a head coach at some point? What are your aspirations in that aspect of your career?
Madison Shipman: I decided to volunteer coach last year just to try it out and I ended up really enjoying it! I can definitely see myself coaching long-term. It allows me to be competitive in a way other than just playing on the field. 

Justin’s World: I'd be remiss not to ask you about the now-famous Skittles. Where did the idea for that incentive come from? Were you surprised when it caught the fan-fueled fire that it did and became such a well-known thing, even being mentioned often on TV broadcasts?
Madison Shipman: I actually got the idea from Karen [Weekly] She used to hand out M&M's when she coached first base. I decided to bring back that tradition but with my own flare: Skittles! I figured they wouldn't melt in my pocket during the hot, spring days. I was definitely surprised when I found out how much it had been talked about. I originally did it to change things up a little and give the team an immediate reward when they did something well. You won't believe how many bags of Skittles I went through during the season!

Justin’s World: What factors led to your desire to sign an endorsement deal with Combat, especially as an exclusive partner for your brand?
Madison Shipman: When I was younger, I used to swing the Lisa Fernandez bat and ever since then, I have been determined to have a bat with my name on it. Combat gave me that opportunity and I could not be more ecstatic. Combat bats are known for their power and that's definitely something I wanted to incorporate in my own bat. 

Justin’s World: When it came time to design the Shipman bat line, how much input did you have into the design and creation of the bats? What were some features that you wanted to make sure were part of the line?
Madison Shipman: I was there from the beginning! I wanted a bat that would stand out among others and had a lot of different color options. I have always been a fan of one-piece bats. I like how even they feel throughout the swing. I wanted to make sure that this was a bat that was powerful, yet easy to handle. 

Justin’s World: What are your eventual plans or hopes to increase your brand in the future, including with other merchandise and beyond?
Madison Shipman: I want to expand to create bat bags, batting gloves and hopefully my own fielding glove! 

Justin’s World: I'd love to get your thoughts on the NPF's expansion with a sixth league franchise.
Madison Shipman: I think the addition of the Scrap Yard Dawgs just shows how much the league is growing. It's amazing to see how much the league has grown in the two years that I have been a part of it. I love that it gives softball players a chance to continue their playing careers after college.

Justin’s World was provided with a Combat TCSFP111 bat, part of the Shipman line. JWOS’ Angel Wilson provides an analysis of the product. Please note that this is not an endorsement of the product; simply our thoughts on the bat itself.

“The Combat TCSFP111 is part of the Madison Shipman signature series. The first thing you notice about this -11 bat is its unique design and colors. Once you swing the bat, you notice a whole lot more. It’s a one-piece composite with lots of pop. With the one-piece design, batters will notice the lack of jarring and shock when hitting the ball. With a solid core and a variable sweet spot, when the bat connects with a ball, it leaves nothing to the imagination. The ball soars from the sweet spot.

Most advanced batters, when they pick up a bat, can “feel” if the bat will be good for them. This bat has a notable solid feel in your hands. The Combat Signature series also has an extremely good grip. When swinging the bat, your hands feel comfortable and secure. Hearing the ball come off of this bat is noticeably different that many other bats. It does not have that “dinking” sound when the ball is hit; the sound that resonates off of the bat is more solid and driven.”

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