Updated: November 14, 2013 at 5:30 am
Teammates and best friends for years, Pine Creek's Haylee McKeehan and Stephanie Warhoe made it official Wednesday they will soon be opponents at the next level.
McKeehan and Warhoe were part of a group of Eagles athletes who signed their national letters of intent to play intercollegiate sports next year. McKeehan, Pine Creek softball's leading pitcher, signed with Chadron State, while hitting star Warhoe made Colorado-Colorado Springs her choice.
As two of the Eagles' six seniors, McKeehan and Warhoe helped Pine Creek win its second consecutive 5A Colorado Springs Metro League title and advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2007 thanks to an 18-5 record. They helped resurrect a program that was a combined 1-31 in 2010 and 2011, going 16-5 in 2012 for an impressive 34-10 mark the last two seasons.
Next year, the two will be squaring off as Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foes, making the signing experience an interesting one for the pair.
"It was kind of surreal," said McKeehan, who was 13-3 with a 2.28 earned-run average this season. "I'm happy, but it's scary too, because going to college is a big step. But I'm really excited."
For Warhoe, the eldest daughter of Pine Creek softball coach Dave Warhoe, signing day officially got the process of transitioning to college going in earnest.
"This is the first real part of the process, and now it feels like it's actually going to happen," said Stephanie Warhoe, who batted .403 and scored a team-best 32 runs. "I've gone to a bunch of these signings through the years, because some of my friends have done it, and to be on the other side of the table was cool. It felt great."
Dave Warhoe was both a proud father and coach at the signing in the school's library.
"We're going to miss these two a lot," he said. "Nobody worked harder than they did, and they made other players work harder, too. They're going to leave two big holes to fill."
Stephanie Warhoe feels good about the legacy she, McKeehan and the other seniors are leaving for the returning players to carry on.
"This was the first group of girls that have stayed together all through school, and it's an example of how to stay together, work as a team and what we can accomplish by coming together and working hard," she said. "We worked really hard and ended up turning our entire program around. That shows everybody that the harder you work, the more you can achieve."
Like her father, Stephanie Warhoe is happy to be staying close to home to continue her athletic and academic careers.
"When I was first looking at different colleges, I always thought I wanted to go as far away from home as I could, but after we visited a lot of schools and talked to a bunch of coaches, I liked it here," she said. "I've lived here my whole life, I like the area and I know the coaches. So, I'm excited to be close to home."