WHITEWRIGHT — A trio of diamond standouts enter their final seasons looking to accomplish big things for their teams.
Their successes through the first three years allowed them to sign letters of intent this week to keep shining, whether on the rubber or in the batter’s box.
Sage Harlow is heading to Tulsa for softball while teammate Hannah Williams chose to play for Lamar. Austin Testerman picked Paris Junior College to continue his baseball career.
Both Harlow and Williams jumped right into the starting lineup as freshmen and Harlow was doing so after having already committed to Tulsa.
“I was coming in with expectations that I need to be good,” Harlow said. “I do have the expectations on my shoulders that I have to be better each season.”
This past season she hit .524 with seven home runs, 10 doubles, four triples, 43 RBI and scored 37 times to earn honorable mention all-state honors after being named the district’s Defensive Player of the Year.
As a sophomore, she hit .419 with three home runs, seven triples, six doubles, 16 RBI and scored 27 times and shared the district’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year award.
During her freshman season she had a .592 batting average with seven homers, 12 doubles, five triples, 39 RBI and scored 44 runs and was a third-team all-state selection in addition to being the 10-3A Newcomer of the Year.
“Sage is a right-handed hitting infielder who will add power to our lineup,” Tulsa head coach Crissy Strimple said in a press release. “She is a competitor at the plate who looks to do damage. We are excited to add her talents to our team.”
Whitewright went 21-6 last season after a bi-district loss against S&S. The Lady Tigers were the 10-3A runner-up and expect to have more success, with a better playoff showing, in the spring.
“We’re going to have the same group of girls. We lost only one senior,” Harlow said. “We’re going to try and work harder this season.”
Tulsa went 37-20 last season and 16-5 in the American Athletic Conference with a runner-up finish in the standings. The Golden Hurricane then went 2-2 in an NCAA Regional. It was the fifth time in program history to win twice at a regional.
In the past 14 seasons, Tulsa has won a conference title eight times, made the NCAA Tournament 11 times and won at least 40 games in six of those years.
“I’ve been committed since I was a freshman. I went on a visit. I liked the coaches and the campus.,” Harlow said. “I think as an athlete you’re supposed to listen but Tulsa was always where I wanted to be. Tulsa was my dream school.”
Williams committed to Texas Woman’s University during her freshman year but a coaching change after her sophomore season changed her status.
“It wasn’t the right fit anymore so I was back on the market,” she said. “It’s very stressful when you feel like you’re running out of time but you’re really not.”
After looking at McPherson College and Henderson State, Williams found her spot.
“I went down to Lamar and it was a perfect fit,” she said. “I love the campus. I love the coaches.”
After hitting .488 with six home runs, 12 doubles, four triples, 30 RBI and 26 runs and being named honorable mention all-district, she missed all but a couple of games of her sophomore year with a torn ACL.
“Definitely frustrating,” Williams said. “It was a time-consuming process. I came back a month earlier than expected. I worked super hard. I was able to hit as soon as I was able to.”
Williams bounced back this past spring with a .551 batting average, six homers, nine doubles, 38 RBI and scored 14 times and her work in the circle helped her share the 10-3A Pitcher of the Year honors.
Lamar went 23-34 this past spring and 14-13 in the Southland Conference to place seventh in the standings after being picked to finish ninth. Last season the Cardinals were 28-28 overall and 11-16 in conference play a year after compiling a 34-31 mark and 17-10 finish for fourth place in the SLC and participated in the National Invitational Softball Championships.
The program was reinstated for the 2013 season after a 26-year hiatus.
Testerman was an honorable mention all-state selection and first-team all-district 10-3A pick by going 6-1 with a 0.91 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 38.2 innings in his junior season. He also hit .385 with nine doubles and 26 RBI as Whitewright went 17-6 and returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, losing in the bi-district round to Gunter.
“I’m ready to get after it,” said Testerman, whose fastball tops out at 90 miles per hour. “We’re going to try to take it all the way.”
He was on the junior varsity at Melissa as a freshman, seeing some spot varsity innings during that season, but an injury during his sophomore year sidelined him for almost the entire spring. Getting to this point is something that he has also wanted.
“I was really just looking at a place to play in college,” Testerman said. “Went out there and had a good showing. It was a little bit of a smaller school. They have a really good player development system. Their placement rate is insane.”
Paris Junior College went 25-30 this past spring and 8-22 in the East Zone Division of the NJCAA Region XIV standings. It was a four-win improvement from the prior season and in 2017 the Dragons qualified for the Region XIV Tournament for the first time since 2014, advancing to the semifinals.
“They’re going to be really sophomore-heavy when I show up so in the fall they’ll know how things shape out and if I can be a contributor,” Testerman said.