The first time Charlotte Catholic’s Carrie Eberle took to the pitching circle in a high school game, she was dominant, overpowering rival South Meck with a 17-strikeout, seven inning no-hit masterpiece.
She went on to a superlative freshman season, where she won 13 games, threw a total of three no-hitters and six one-hitters, struck out 202 batters and remade the Cougars into a perennial conference threat – at least until she graduates in
In addition to her work as one of the Charlotte area’s most dominant pitchers, and despite being just a freshman, Eberle also batted .384 and led the team with 19 RBIs, six doubles and two home runs en route to earning the South Charlotte Weekly’s Softball Player of the Year award.
And it wasn’t like Eberle was racking up numbers against the Cougars’ weakest competition, either. Conference-rival Olympic went 23-4 on the year, but just 1-2 against Eberle, who one-hit the Trojans in April and threw a no-hitter with nine strikeouts in the conference tournament
Eberle admitted, though, that the ramifications of such a dominating season can go both ways.
“I think it does put more weight on my shoulders and that can be a good thing and a bad thing,” she said. “The positive is people have confidence in me and I know that my teammates do, too, and they’ll back me up any way that they can and I’ll do the same for them. The negative side is sometimes if I don’t have my best game it reflects on all of us. It’s a lot of pressure.”
This season, the Cougars have begun 8-3 through April 10 in the newly-formed So. Meck 8 after making the switch from Class 3A to the state’s largest classification, 4A. After winning four of their past six games, the Cougars are right in the thick of a four-team race which includes Olympic, Providence and Ardrey Kell who are all within a game of the conference
And, just like last year, Eberle has again been in the middle of all of the Cougar success. She’s tearing it up at the plate, leading the Cougars in nearly every statistical category, including batting average (.526), hits (20), runs scored (18), RBIs (16) and tops the team with a triple and a home run.
She’s also had dominant performances on the mound, throwing two no-hitters already, with five shutouts, a 1.60 ERA while averaging a strikeout per
But as good as Eberle’s season has been, it’s hard for the sophomore star to back up all that she accomplished a season ago. And, at times, coach Kathleen Murphy said the Cougars’ defense hasn’t exactly helped her cause as she’s allowed 35 runs on the season, but just 16 of them have been
“She’s carrying this team,” Murphy said. “She did all of those great things as a freshman and I think we have a tendency to automatically expect even greater things, but as a teacher and a coach, sometimes you have to grow and that’s what she’s doing. She’s working on some new pitches and I think some people are like ‘What’s wrong with Carrie?’ There’s nothing wrong her, she’s just growing up and that’s a natural part of life.
“Carrie’s an outstanding pitcher, she’s a workhorse and she’s working to get better. I think what’s happening with her is sometimes we have to break things down to get better. She’s the same young lady, she works as hard if not harder than she did last year, but I think she’s finding her way as a sophomore. When you’re the new kid on the block and nobody knows who you are, you don’t have anything on your back pressure-wise.”
Murphy said the Cougars will basically go as far as Eberle can carry them although they’ve gotten big contributions from junior Callie Wiese (.400 batting average), Hannah Shaul (.375), Katharine Dattolo (.318), Gracie O’Brien (eight RBIs) and Emily Prys (seven RBIs), among others.
“On our team we have two players who play elite level of travel ball and we have a few who play middle levels and we have a lot of people who play multiple sports,” Murphy said. “Each year, we sort of rebuild a little bit, so we’re a little rusty when February starts.”
Eberle, who plays along with Wiese on the Lady Blues Gold during the summer, takes a little while to get adjusted, too. She plays volleyball in the fall, starts as a center on the Cougar basketball team in the winter and plays year-round softball while maintaining a straight-A report card and 4.2
So it’s understandable that her teammates look up to Eberle and why she’s a captain despite being a sophomore.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Eberle said. “I like being a leader and it helps me mature faster. I think as a leader, if I have a bad attitude, then people think they can, too, so I try to always stay positive and have a good attitude and try to be a good role model.”
Despite a somewhat turbulent beginning to the season, the Cougars and Eberle have come together and are right in the mix for another conference crown and in line to have a great run for the next two-plus seasons she has left in a Cougar
While Murphy said this season has been sort of up and down for the Cougars, she has no doubt the future’s bright for Charlotte Catholic softball – especially as long as Eberle is leading the
“I don’t feel like I need to set any expectations for her because she’s already placed those expectations on herself,” Murphy said. “She’s a verbal leader, but she has a relentless work ethic. She’s one of the last people to leave practice and she’s one of the first to be out. Nobody wants to win more than Carrie and that’s something you can’t teach – that fire to be the best. She sets the bar high for her teammates and she’s going to bring them up. I wish I had 10 players just like her. It’s her drive and her work ethic to be the best she can be that separates her in my opinion, and she’s got that for