During his time in Tullahoma, Harper Case was a dominant pitcher for the Wildcats, considered by many to be the ace of the rotation during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
That hard work didn’t go unnoticed, as he was praised by his high school coaches for his willingness to continue to get better. Those efforts also were noted by several colleges, including the University of Alabama-Huntsville, where Case has been a member of the Chargers baseball team since the fall of 2016.
As a freshman and sophomore, the left-hander received some mound time. However, during his junior year this spring, Case really started to flourish, making 14 appearances, including eight starts on the year.
As a junior, Case put together a 3-2 record for the Chargers, including tossing a complete game, while adding a pair of saves. He was third on the team in earned run average, concluding the year with a 3.58 ERA, surrendering 22 runs in his 55.1 innings pitched.
“Harper came in as a freshman and really got thrown into the fire relatively quick, coming out of the bullpen for us in some big games,” said UAH Coach Hunter Royer. “This year, he had some really big games… He’s a pretty calm and cool collected guy. I don’t ever think that he gets too high and I don’t think that he ever gets too low. That helps a lot when you’re playing the sport of baseball, when you’re going to fall a bit, no matter how good you are.”
According to Case, he gives credit to his success in part to his warm up during his routine. Having that warmup, mixed with an advanced game plan really helped him this past year.
“It was important to have a plan established in the days prior to games, and even the day of the game itself, to make sure my body was in the right condition to perform the way my team needed it to,” Case said. “Also, this season showed me the importance of setting hitters up from at-bat to at-bat.”
Heading into this past season, Case said he focused on improving in two different areas. The first of those goals, was to continue to develop a third pitch in his arsenal. After already having a strong curveball and fastball, Case wanted to be able to control his changeup.
“This year, that was a really big pitch for him," Royer said. "In some big games where he had success, he was able to throw that pitch in hitter’s counts. He was able to do that this year… The other thing that helped him is his ability to throw the baseball in. He’d get it in on righties and maybe surprise them inside with the fastball when they were looking for the changeup.”
Case’s second goal was to improve his overall flexibility. He did this by using more yoga-based stretches.
“This season I worked on improving my overall game by becoming more consistent with my changeup, which caused the batters to worry about three pitches instead of just two,” Case said. “[Yoga] allowed for me to be better on the field and withstand the duration of the season so that I could be as efficient at the end of the season as I was at the start.”
As a team this past season, the Chargers concluded the year with a 27-21 overall record, going 16-12 in conference play. UAH saw its season come to a close with back-to-back losses during the Gulf South Conference Championships on May 5 in Oxford, Alabama.
“Every year we have continued to progress,” Case said. “Next year’s team will be very experienced compared to previous years due to a large senior class and a close-bonded team. My expectations for this team, going into this next year, is that we will finish better than we did this past season. I see us at the top of the Gulf South Conference, if not first”.
Off the field, Case said he is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in physical education, while adding a minor in coaching. His goal is to get into teaching, helping students inside and outside the classroom and on and off the field as well.
In past years, Case said that he has helped out with the Huntsville chapter of the Miracle League, which is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities. At the same time, the league helps educate the public and promote a greater understanding of matters concerning individuals with disabilities.
“Some goals that I have for this next year on the field are to be in a position that I can help my team in any way possible, while also becoming more vocal as a leader,” Case said. “Off the field, I would like to promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle to the kids that I will come into contact with throughout my field experience this upcoming school year. I also want to be involved in the community as much as possible.
“I really have enjoyed helping with Miracle League in Huntsville in the past, and I hope to be able to spend more of my free time there this next year.”
Though he has a busy schedule with baseball and schoolwork, Case said he still keeps up with how Tullahoma is doing. In fact, he was able to attend a game this past year, heading to Winchester to see the Wildcats take on Franklin County.
“I really enjoyed the battle from both teams and also all the fans that came out to support the Wildcats,” he said.