Family support fuels elite competition

Photo bu Valerie Brown

Photo bu Valerie Brown

Lance Lysowski

Softball is a way of life for the Carmichaels.

The family has a batting cage in the barn and has been traveling across the country for the past decade to attend tournaments.

“It’s always been my goal to each year, get better.”

-Jessica Carmichael

Jessica Carmichael, the Flashes’ senior third baseman, was the first to step onto the field when she was 10 years old. Her sister Shelby Carmichael followed three years later.

Now both are playing at the collegiate level, but they have not forgotten where they came from.

“It’s what my family knew,” Jessica Carmichael said. “It’s what we did as a family and I think the game just really caught on. It kept us close.”

Jessica, who leads Kent State (14-17, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) with nine home runs and 31 runs batted in, returns to her hometown of Dalton, Ohio every summer to train with her sister.

The two spend their days hitting pitch after pitch from the batting cage their father built for them. When one sister does not feel like working out, the other makes sure that they get off the couch and into the barn.

The constant workouts have turned Jessica Carmichael into one of the MAC’s top softball players. She earned first-team MAC honors last season and made second team the previous season.

While Shelby and Jessica Carmichael spend countless hours in the barn, Jessica Carmichael keeps her mental preparation simple: setting goals. When she was named to the MAC All-Freshman team her freshman year, she was not satisfied.

She wanted to be the best.

“Not being happy or being content with what you did the year before,” Jessica Carmichael said. “It’s always been my goal to each year, get better.”

The attitude has shown on the playing field where she has been a stable member of the Flashes’ starting lineup. Her six home runs and 17 RBIs paced Kent State during conference play last season.

The team will need her offensive play as they reach their major conference schedule. The Flashes started MAC play last weekend when they swept Bowling Green and Toledo on the road.

The Flashes hope to continue their undefeated record this weekend when the team hosts Western Michigan. The Broncos (8-21, 2-2 MAC) have struggled heavily on both sides of the plate. The series will start Friday with a double-header at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., while the Flashes will face Northern Illinois Saturday and Sunday.

While Kent State’s experience and offensive ability give them the edge during the home series, the team will be looking to seniors like Jessica Carmichael.

“I feel like our class as a whole has provided all the leadership that is needed,” Jessica Carmichael said. “We don’t have to look to one senior.”

The seniors have a little over five weeks to play in the regular season before they play in their last conference tournament.

For Jessica Carmichael, the end of her career is bittersweet. She hates to leave behind the friends she made and the game of softball, but she’ll be able to be around the game of softball thanks to her sister.

Shelby Carmichael is a freshman at University of Mount Union, and Jessica Carmichael looks forward to being able to watch her sister play. The two motivated each other to this point in their careers, and Jessica Carmichael does not see that changing.

As for her career, she’ll be content with how she spent her time at Kent State.

“Although it is sad that its coming to an end, I can look back at my career and be pretty happy how its turned out,” Jessica Carmichael said.

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].