The Wildcats’ softball team has a tradition of excellence that has stemmed from great coaching, experienced veteran play and emerging young talent. This combination has led to nine consecutive conference championships, winning two national championships during that span.
A new piece of the Wildcats’ arsenal this year is sophomore Erin Carson.
As a freshman, Carson competed in 21 of the Wildcats’ games, posting a batting average of .333.
With an outfield consisting of two seniors and a junior, Carson’s opportunities were usually limited to pinch-hitting.
“I pinched hit a lot last year,” Carson said. “It helped me get experience against the other pitchers in our conference.”
This October, Carson had surgery on her meniscus, losing the chance to practice through the fall with her team.
“I’ve had knee issues since my senior year of high school,” Carson said. “I got meniscus surgery in October and spent all of the fall getting healthy.”
Carson continued to work on rehabilitating her knee, having less than three months until the start of the spring season.
“Doctors told me to take it slow. I started walking, then power walking and then jogging,” Carson said. “I took it easy in fall term and just jumped into it in January.”
When January came Carson had a few things to work on.
Along with a newly repaired knee, Carson would be making the switch from middle infield to the outfield position.
“The outfield is still new to me,” Carson said. “I try to get better every day at practice.”
With the loss of two senior outfielders and program greats, Staci Doucette and Emilee Lepp to graduation, Carson has received more chances to prove herself as a starter, already starting 11 of the Wildcats’ first 17 games, as well as pinch-hitting in three more.
“Getting the opportunity to be in the starting line up is important to me,” Carson said. “I can hit and I have the potential to hit consistently instead of just pinch-hitting opportunities.”
Carson has made the most of her opportunities this year.
The left-handed hitter currently has a .457 batting average with 11 RBI and a .600 slugging percentage.
Despite playing a new position, Carson has fared well, not making a single error up-to-date in her six opportunities.
Currently, the Wildcats are 13-4 overall, 10-2 in Northwest Conference play and post the best record in the conference. Along with the conference standings, the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association ranks Linfield ninth in the nation, highest among Northwest Conference teams.
Carson and the Wildcats take a trip to Southern California starting March 20.
The ’Cats are scheduled to play six games in three days, with double headers against University of La Verne, California Lutheran University and Chapman University.
Chris Haddeland can be reached at