Wildcats standout to join Division III program in New York

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Wilsonville pitcher Sarah Harms (center) is flanked by her parents, Steve and Thereasa, as she takes part in a Signing Day ceremony Feb. 5. She will continue her softball career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.Liberty League batters will soon be in harm’s way — Sarah Harms’ way.

The standout pitcher was recently accepted to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she will continue her softball career next year.

And although Harms didn’t complete any official paperwork during a Signing Day ceremony Feb. 5 at Wilsonville High School — Division III schools don’t provide athletic scholarships — she was excited to start thinking about her future in Troy, N.Y.

“It’s kind of stressful, the whole process,” Harms said. “It feels good to find the right choice.”

Harms considered a few other collegiate softball programs on the East Coast and in Oregon but ultimately steered towards RPI, where she intends to study chemical engineering.

She figures to make an impact in the circle for the Engineers, who are coached by Amber Maisonet. The squad went 26-15 and compiled a 7-3 mark in conference play last season, when they recorded a collective 3.13 earned-run average while holding opposing hitters to a .273 batting average.

The thread of Harms’ pending journey across the country can be traced in part to a softball camp she attended on the East Coast between her sophomore and junior seasons with the Wildcats.

She then played for the Massachusetts-based Worcester Hawks club team this past summer and developed her skills under the tutelage of acclaimed coach Ralph Raymond, who guided the U.S. softball team to Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2000.

After Rensselaer Poly’s coach watched Harms play with the Hawks, the two began corresponding via email. Harms eventually visited the campus, which is roughly 150 miles north of Manhattan, and was able to envision herself as a student there.

For Harms, RPI contains the next portion of a softball journey that began in the youth ranks.

“I’ve been playing since tee ball, and I’ve just always had the heart for it,” she said. “It’s always been fun and interesting. It’s never been a drag. So I just kept going with it.”

But Harms didn’t just keep going with it — she got good at it.

She earned all-league honorable mention as a freshman, garnered second-team all-conference recognition as a sophomore and made the Northwest Oregon Conference first team this past season.

She also received all-state honorable mention in a landmark 2013 campaign for Wilsonville, which posted an 18-9 record, finished at No. 11 in the Class 5A state rankings and outscored opponents 153-89.

Harms, who played most of her high school career under former coach Dan Kane, will lead the Wildcats as a senior under new coach Mick Johnson. Their spring season begins next month.

“We have a pretty young group because a lot of players graduated,” she said. “We had a really good season last year, but the goal is to have a better record than last year. And I think we can do it.”

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