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COAL GROVE, Ohio — West Virginia State University softball owned one huge advantage that no other program could match in recruiting Coal Grove’s Kaleigh Murphy — her sister.

Kaleigh, a senior right-handed pitcher, signed with the Yellow Jackets Tuesday afternoon in the Coal Grove gym as her sister Kasey and other family members looked on. Kasey is a junior standout who went 11-8 with a 2.16 earned run average last season.

Basketball offers poured in for Murphy, who has helped the Hornets to at least a share of the last three Ohio Valley Conference championships, but the temptation to play one season on the softball diamond with her sister was the deciding factor.

“This high school season has been the best I’ve had and it changed my mind about softball for a minute, but I had to realize what was going to make me happy for the next four years, and playing with Kasey one year, and I couldn’t pass on the offer they gave me,” Murphy said. “I wanted to play with Kacey because I’ve gotten to play travel ball with her, but nothing else.”

Kaleigh, who wants to go into education and coaching, also received basketball offers from Otterbein, Ohio Northern, Ohio Wesleyan, Kentucky Wesleyan and Davis & Elkins. Otterbein offered the opportunity to play both sports and West Virginia State also offered her for basketball.

“The best word to describe her is ‘athlete,’ said former Coal Grove coach Rick Roach. “She’s a very athletic kid who comes from a good gene line. Her heart led her to softball and she’ll have a great career because of her work ethic. I’m happy for her. She deserves it. Hard work pays off.”

Kasey Murphy said she is thrilled for the opportunity to take the field with her sister, who also plays the outfield.

“It’s going to be really exciting to test her limits on and off the field, not just as my sister,” Kasey said.

“She’s going to be my teammate, too, so she’s going to have to learn the boundaries. A lot of kids don’t realize that college is nothing like high school. There’s a lot more discipline and dedication you have to put into it. She’s going realize that when she comes next fall.”

Tim Stephens is a sports writer with The Herald-Dispatch.

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