HUNTINGTON - The most-feared lineup in Conference USA softball just became scarier.
University of Charleston star and former Spring Valley High School first-team all-stater Haleigh Christopher has transferred to Marshall University.
The power-hitting catcher brings even more pop to a lineup that smashed a league-best 79 home runs, 30 more than the next-best club, last season.
As a junior, Christopher set University of Charleston program records with 16 home runs and 51 runs batted in earning NCAA Division II second-team All-Atlantic Region honors. A first-team All-Mountain East Conference selection, Christopher batted .372, slugged .759 and reached base at a .503 clip.
"I'm excited," Christopher said of transferring to Marshall. "I've always wanted to go Division I. My freshman year I had a couple of offers, but they weren't the right fit. After my junior year I wanted to see if an opportunity was there and I entered the transfer portal. Marshall contacted me immediately."
Christopher said leaving the University of Charleston was difficult, but coach Kimberly Stiles was gracious in allowing her to pursue an opportunity to play at college's highest level.
"She gave me my full release, so I don't have to sit out a year," Christopher said. "I have nothing but respect for her. I had a great three years at U.C. and she told me she didn't blame me for wanting to go DI. She said she understands."
The Thundering Herd lost catcher Hayden Ellis to graduation. Katie Adams, a sophomore from Hurricane High School, returns at the position, as does freshman Caitlin Myers.
"I'll work hard on my catching and hitting over the summer," Christopher said of earning a starting job. "You always have to earn your position and I have high expectations for myself. I just want to do whatever it takes to help Marshall softball win."
Christopher, an honor student who majors in education, said she won't coach Senior League this summer to concentrate on improving her game.
Marshall returns Mya Stevenson and Aly Harrell, who hit 20 and 14 homers, respectively, last season. Also back is Sierra Huerta, who hit nine. That trio, with Christopher, has potential to be a formidable middle of the lineup.