Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of updates on former high school sports stars from the Tri-State participating in college athletics:
Few athletes make such as impressive performance at such a young age, but sophomore Gracie Hightower was spectacular last season at West Virginia Wesleyan. The former Cabell Midland High School softball star led the Bobcats in batting with a .401 average, at bats (2-2) hits (81), runs (41) and triples (2). She was 9 for 9 in stolen base attempts and started all 57 games. Hightower drove in 20 runs and smacked eight doubles in earning NCAA Division II All-Atlantic Region and All-Mountain East Conference honors.
Hightower, whose brother Kyle was a redshirt freshman on the baseball team, was one of several local players competing at the Buckhannan, West Virginia, school. Here’s a look at some others who played this spring:
Noah Birthisel, Hurricane HS, baseball: A redshirt senior, Birthisel appeared in six games and batted .063. He drove in two runs.
Eli Brogan, Lincoln County HS, baseball: A freshman, Brogan was 0-5 with an 11.16 earned run average.
Hunter Eplin, Cabell Midland HS, baseball: A sophomore pitcher/infielder, Eplin went 2-4 with a 9.66 ERA on the mound. He struck out 24 and walked 19 in 31 1/3 innings. At the plate, Eplin started 15 games and hit .214.
Sam Ingram, Winfield HS, baseball: A junior utility player, Ingram hit one home run and knocked in 18 runs. He stole 10 bases in 11 attempts and swatted seven doubles.
Taylor Swartz, Meigs HS, baseball: The junior catcher/infielder batted .290 with eight home runs and 43 runs batted in this season, starting all 57 games. She slugged .477 and reached base at a .350 clip.