By Mike Potter, NCCU Eagles Insider
Cember Carmichael said it didn’t take her long on her recruiting visit to North Carolina Central University 16 months ago to figure out she’d fit in well with the softball team.
“I came on a recruiting visit last December and fell in love with the school and the atmosphere and the girls on the team,” said the freshman left fielder from Conyers, Ga., who was also recruited by Coastal Carolina and a couple of other schools. “I thought the girls here were very nice and that was important.Carmichael
“You need the whole team to mesh. I wasn’t super-intimidated because they were pretty outgoing. They didn’t down me because I was a freshman, but looked at me like I was one of them.”
The whole team should be happy Carmichael joined them, because she has turned into their best hitter.
As the cleanup or No. 5 hitter in most games, Carmichael has hit .275, the squad’s only two homers and is far and away the team’s leader in RBI with 18. She is also easily the leader in slugging percentage (.385) and on-base percentage (.383) and has drawn 15 walks.
Opposing pitchers don’t seem to relish facing her.
“I’m known for power hitting,” said Carmichael, who tried other sports for in high school for the Spaulding Jaguars but found out she’d just rather spend the extra time in the batting cage. “I’ve always been pretty strong.”
Her second homer so far was the big one, a grand slam to help the Lady Eagles to a 12-11 win over archrival North Carolina A&T on April 9 at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary.
NCCU coach Mike Charlton said it wasn’t a hard decision to offer Carmichael a chance to play for his team.
“I don’t know if she’s our most talented overall player right now because she’s a freshman, but she’s in the top two or three,” Charlton said. “When I first saw her I was in South Carolina and she was playing travel ball, and I could see she just purely enjoyed playing the game. She’s aggressive and always on ‘Go’ and always leaves 100 percent on the field.”
Carmichael has been playing this season with a heavy heart, following the untimely death of her stepfather Timothy Love, who was in his mid-40s, in May.
“He had been around since I was in fifth grade,” said Carmichael, who is also in touch with her father – also named Timothy – in Detroit. “I kind of looked at him as a role model in softball. I saw him turn a triple play once as a shortstop. He would take me to the cages and hit me ground balls.”
But without her stepdad around, she has kept up the work ethic he inspired.
“We do a lot of running, and I stay in the cage all summer,” she said. “I’m going to get a hitting instructor to keep me on top of it. Before a game I get 50-60 swings in. During the day if I have time I come in and swing. I try working on inside pitches and outside pitches. I just try to place the ball where it needs to go.”
Charlton said Carmichael has a lot of intangibles that make her special.
“She’s interesting,” he said. “She definitely caught my eye with her dynamics with her summer team, always aggressive, stayed motivated and kept her team positive.
“When I met her mom and her family I could see what kind of dynamic person she is. She’s deceptive. She has very quick hands and a very strong back.”
Carmichael, who wants to major in mass communications and perhaps become a sports analyst someday, said for now she’s just soaking all the softball knowledge she can.
“I really look up to (junior catcher) Andrea Searls,” said Carmichael, who seems to exude confidence with her easy smile. “She works really hard and she pushes me.
“Coach talks a lot, but it’s always good stuff. He motivates you to do better. He’s a genuine guy who really cares. He wants you to come talk to him. I’m a long way from home, and I really respect him for being almost like family.”