March 1, 2011
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Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Friday, Aug. 13, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2010-11 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Some players wilt under the pressure of a crucial at-bat or become timid in key situations. University of Iowa senior Chelsey Carmody doesn’t fall into either category.
“I love the pressure,” said Carmody, a four-year starter with the Hawkeye softball program. “I think it’s something I strive on.”
During NCAA Regional play during her freshman season, Carmody stepped into the batter’s box in the top of the seventh inning with two outs, two runners on, and the Hawkeyes trailing Missouri, 3-1. Typically, freshmen aren’t ones to thrive in these types of situations, but Carmody wasn’t your typical freshman.
What happened? Carmody stepped to the plate, turned on a pitch and belted a three-run home run over the right field fence at Pearl Field to give Iowa a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh inning. It was her first career long ball.
“I remember actually being really relaxed before I went up there,” said Carmody. “I knew it was a do-or-die situation, but I had two teammates go up and get hits right before me. I went with it, got a good pitch to drive and drove it.”
Missouri ended up answering with two runs in the bottom of the inning to put a damper on Carmody’s heroics. But on May 18, 2008, a star was born in Iowa City, as Carmody displayed her propensity for performing in the clutch.
Carmody started playing softball when she was five years old, but didn’t begin playing competitively until she was eight or nine years old. During her high school career, she starred in softball and basketball at Lafayette High School in the St. Louis area, but it wasn’t until her early years of high school that she knew she wanted to continue playing softball collegiately.
“It was earlier in high school, which is kind of late,” said Carmody. “I played a few other sports, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was definitely better at softball, so that kind of helped. I love the game, and I love being a part of it. As I grew older, it kind of felt right.”
After earning first team all-state honors in each of her final two seasons and being named the Suburban West Conference Player of the Year as a senior, Carmody had a number of collegiate options. Her home state school, Missouri, showed a bit of interest, but something intrigued her about the Hawkeyes.
“I liked that we had the opportunity to get to the postseason,” said Carmody. “How the team was, how they were so close. It’s like being a family here, and I am big on family.”
Carmody was thrown into the fire as a true freshman in Iowa City, starting all 59 games at second base. She led the team with 65 hits, five triples and 32 runs in her inaugural season, while posting a .320 batting average.
“I knew it was going to be a tough transition, and I expected things to really jump at this level,” said Carmody. “When I got here, I felt I was ready for it.”
Carmody was right, she was ready. On the biggest stage — in NCAA Regional play — Carmody paced the Hawkeyes with a .533 batting average, collecting eight hits in 15 at-bats. She posted a .867 slugging percentage after belting two doubles and the aforementioned three-run shot.
During her sophomore and junior seasons, Carmody was a mainstay in the Hawkeye line-up, starting 53 and 47 games, respectively. She entered her senior season with a .326 batting average with 95 runs — a figure that ranks in the top 10 in school history — and nine triples.
Prior to the start of her senior season, Carmody was voted by her teammates as one of the team co-captains along with junior Katie Keim.
“Being voted the team captain shows that her teammates really respect her,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “She’s earned that respect, it’s not just given, she’s earned it.
“She puts it on the field, in the weight room, on the track, whatever we’re doing, she puts it out there and gives it everything she’s got.”
Carmody’s goal during her senior season is to lead the team as an extension of the coaching staff. She wants to guide the Hawkeyes back to the NCAA Tournament after the squad missed out on postseason play a year ago.
“I am hoping that I can be an extension of the coaching staff and really implement a lot of the things they (the new coaches) are trying to do,” said Carmody. “They’ve come in and really got some things going for us.
“I think our team is more confident because of it, and we’re really going to go out there and compete. That’s two things I would love for our girls to remember; to be confident and go out there and compete every day and to enjoy the experience.”
When reflecting on her time as a Hawkeye, Carmody’s mind drifts back to that May afternoon in Iowa City and that pressure-packed situation against her home-state Tigers.
“My favorite moment, even though we lost, was playing Missouri,” said Carmody. “I think that was the most competitive time I felt here was in those games. I feel that’s where we should be, playing and competing for regional championships every year.”
Carmody graduates in May with a geography degree with a certificate in sustainability. She plans on moving back to St. Louis upon graduation and is interested in working for the Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife Conservation.