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NC State Baseball

MCLAMB: Highfill And Whitaker Set The Bar

June 18, 2024

´╗┐As they entered the press conference to discuss the loss that ended their NC State careers, Sam Highfill and Logan Whitaker were visibly emotional. It was clear that moments earlier they probably would not have been ready to cope with recapping the Wolfpack's loss to Florida or its magical run to return to the College World Series. 

But like their return to the mound after injuries, the duo coped with the situation and put their best foot forward in the NC State jersey. As such, Wolfpack fans and the rest of the nation got to see how much they gave for their school. 

Highfill and Whitaker had already crossed the line when it came to earning respect from NC State's fan base for their talent and resilience. If they had been physically spent by the time the Wolfpack arrived in Omaha to compete for the national title, no reasonable person would have felt that they had underperformed or showed an unwillingness to sacrifice.

Regarding NC State's exit from the 2024 College World Series, there will be talk of coaching decisions, critical moments, and umpire calls. That's life. Perhaps the most important aspect of this journey to Omaha is the Wolfpack will now go home for the right reasons -- the outcome of the games. That will make accepting the results of this College World Series appearance a little more palatable. 

It was interesting and somewhat refreshing to see Highfill display emotion as he left the mound for the last time in his college career. That response was atypical for him.

NC State could not hold on against Kentucky, but the righty gave his team seven strong innings and left the contest with his team in a position to win. An arm and shoulder once so brittle that never pitching again was not out of the question were responsible for over 100 high-pressure pitches. Highfill never lost a game to an SEC school in his career, and his exploits in two trips to Omaha will never be forgotten.

Whitaker has overcome maladies, both pitching-related and mysterious, to return to the mound for NC State's stretch run. He was sensational in his College World Series appearance against Florida -- the appearance he always craved.  The native of Winston-Salem pitched the game of his life when his team needed it. The other teams want it, too, but the Wolfpack had a chance to win with Whitaker hurling. 

Maybe the fortitude to return and perform at a high level shown by Highfill and Whitaker is just a product of their environment. With several jerseys hanging in the dugout every game, they played for an NC State program that seemed intent on never forgetting their own.

Will NC State win a national title in baseball one day? It is a tough question. It is not easy to do, but it seems much more possible now than it has over the past decade -- sans the first two games of the 2021 College World Series. The base the program has to build on now is not limited to talent acquisition. It is also chock-full of character and commitment. Highfill and Whitaker did more than just hold up their end of the bargain in those regards. They were beacons of light for their teammates. 

If NC State one day does win a national title in baseball, it will have a great deal of all those traits, but it is almost implausible to imagine anyone with more of a will to compete for their school and teammates than the pitching duo of Sam Highfill and Logan Whitaker. That is their legacy at the moment. The great news for NC State is it is a legacy that can continue and be built on. 

MCLAMB: Highfill And Whitaker Set The Bar

1,941 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by boguesound
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Well said.
Jesus, Family, Wolfpack!
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Highfill and Whit were so good when they needed to be.
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All time dude team.
Just a guy on the sunshine squad.
The Gatekeeper.
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Thanks, Rob, for bringing this into perspective and that helps ease the disappointment and the pain of our ouster for the players and the fans. This Team and their Coach were an inspiration for us all. Thank you Pack9 for a great season, and you will always be remembered for the heart and dedication you showed us.
Jeff N Rand
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Neither's stats will blow you away but these two always showed up in big games
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The first thing I said to anyone after the Florida game was to my brother & step dad, mentioned the saddest part for me about leaving Omaha was the fact that 2 incredible pitching performances by Highfill and Whitaker would be overshadowed by the Wolfpack losing and heading home. Two seniors clearly put everything they had into those two games, to the point it almost overcame all other deficiencies during the games, and after all the adversity they faced during their careers here. This will likely be recognized by only those beyond a casual fan. They have firmly cemented themselves as Wolfpack legends and I hope others are able to see this as well
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Well said
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