Thomas Jefferson softball player Karcher ‘fell in love with’ West Chester
Family is important to Thomas Jefferson senior Haleigh Karcher.
A junior and third-year starting catcher on the TJ softball team, Karcher recently made her college commitment and opted for West Chester.
WCU is located approximately 25 miles west of Philadelphia and is a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
The Golden Rams, who finished 48-13 last season and advanced to the Atlantic Super Regional in the NCAA Tournament, opened this week with a 14-7 record.
For Karcher, her college selection process proved to be a heart-felt activity.
“West Chester hit my heart a little when deciding,” said Karcher, who also drew interest from St. John’s and Fairfield. “To start, the campus is beautiful and their softball program is unbelievable. The school is less than two hours away from my grandparents and four (others) from my family. That made the decision almost a given, considering how much my family means to me and how far they have pushed me throughout my journey.
“I had some other offers, but I knew West Chester was the best place for me.”
Karcher also plays volleyball and is a student council member at TJ. She has a 3.897 GPA and is involved in the French, Big Jag Little Cub and TJ vs. Cancer clubs. She plans to major in nursing in college and said her favorite subject in the classroom “is anything in the science field.”
Karcher’s biggest influence in her athletic career has been her mom, Heidi, a former Penn State softball player who now is coach of the TJ softball program.
“We traveled to a lot of campuses and attended numerous camps that showed interest in Haleigh,” said Heidi, who teaches physics and chemistry at TJ. “But trying to find the balance between being allowed to earn a nursing degree with clinicals and playing softball was difficult. She wanted to stay relatively close to her family so our family members can see her play.
“She fell in love with the (West Chester) area and the campus, and as soon as we came home she said to me that she wanted to go there.”
Haleigh Karcher, who competes in the offseason with the Ohio Outlaws travel organization, finished with a .338 batting average last spring and led the Jaguars in hits and RBIs.
“She is the hardest worker on the team when it comes to softball training and exposure, traveling around the country to play at the highest level, and training almost 12 months out of the year,” said her mom. “She has personalized hitting lessons and strength and speed lessons.”
Thomas Jefferson has advanced to the WPIAL softball playoffs seven times in the past nine seasons. The Jaguars, who ended up 11-10 last year, appear to be well stocked with talent this season.
Along with the 16-year-old Karcher, TJ’s returning starters include seniors Kimmy Bachman in the outfield and Liz Brock at first base along with sophomores Bella Bucy, a left-handed pitcher, and Abby Chalovich, an outfielder.
Others looking to make an impact include juniors Lauren Liberi (IF), Sarah Thornton (IF) and Adara Getsy (OF); sophomores Mackenzie Zang (OF) and Alana Cleary (OF); plus freshmen Paige Truax (IF), Claire Whalen (OF) and Lily Rockwell, at the designated player position.
“I want us as a team to thrive and accomplish our team goal: a title,” Haleigh Karcher said. “Our team looks sound defensively.
“My personal goal this season is to be a team leader.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.