While their playing days might be over, the lessons Hancock County’s community leaders learned on the sports fields continue to guide them today. In this week-long series, we look back on the positive effect athletics had on their lives.
NEW PALESTINE — The baseball talent factory that is New Palestine stretches back decades. Each year, a successful Dragon squad will inevitably be lined with players who spent their youth as teammates dotting the diamonds at various area ballparks.
This was true of the 2014 squad – which qualified for the program’s second semistate in three years – and it was also true 10 years ago, when sophomore Shane Highsmith and his gifted group of classmates guided NP to its only baseball state championship.
Highsmith recalls making an 8-year-old all-star team as his first memorable moment in baseball.
“As a kid in New Pal, I played with a lot of the same players through my career. We were all friends through school and played ball together,” said Highsmith, now the Co-Owner of Highsmith Guns in Greenfield. “It was fun through the summer. We won 22-25 games and lost maybe three times.”
Fast forward to Highsmith’s second year at New Palestine High School. The Dragons were coming off a 27-7 season that culminated with a 3-1, eight-inning loss to Norwell in the Class 3A State Finals.
NP was even better in 2004, riding a 29-4 record to the 3A state title game behind by a group of sophomores – most of who played freshman ball in 2003.