By Randy Whetstone Jr.–
Dominance describes the manner in which junior Caralisa Connell has performed for Louisville women’s softball. She is 8-1 on the season, currently on pace to have another outstanding year. Connell went 39-8 in her first two years at the University of Louisville owning the freshman record for wins (20) and strikeouts (155). In recent performances she has been a flamethrower by going 4-0 in a week’s span with two out of the four wins being one-hit shutouts. Hitters have been exposed with an average batting percentage of .095. This season she has earned the Big East Player of the Week honor.
“Well it’s really nice when other people notice when you do things well,” she explained in her statement regarding the recognition, “but two of my other teammates have already gotten it this year too. I think it really shows that our team is really diverse; it’s not always one person that’s doing something.”
Connell gave insight about her mindset in her previous games, and how she has been able to dominate. “We came in and we just knew that we needed to show everyone here what Louisville softball was about, and what we wanted them to see when we played. I thought we’re going to make it fun, and going let the fans have fun watching.”
A pitcher’s ability to dissect a hitter and pick them apart in a psychological battle is something that fans find remarkable. It’s always intriguing to know what the pitcher thinks about when at the mound. “It’s kind of like you talk to yourself in your head like, ‘oh they can’t hit me’. It’s not necessarily that their not capable of it, but if you don’t have that mindset then your going to leave it a little bit over the middle,” said Connell.
The softball team is 12-2 on the year and on a current six game winning streak. Team unity plays a vital role in their success. Connell enjoys the chemistry within the team, and believes each player’s integration is pertinent to make the team a whole.
“I think as a team we have really good team chemistry and we all get along, and we hang out together regardless if we are on the field or off the field. I think that really helps us play together as a team, because we all know that everyone else has your back. From a pitcher’s standpoint a lot of times you’re the one with the ball all the time, you set the tone for everyone else. So if you come out and have a lot of intensity, and you’re focused and you’re ready to go, and you’re throwing strikes then it really helps everyone else jump on board and get that level of intensity and effort.”
Connell recognizes that leadership plays an important role in achieving success for the softball team.
“Well I think that it’s a lot about we are almost forced to be some sort of a leader, because we are the one controlling the game. If we are pitching bad, then the rest of the team can’t do anything to help that. So from a gift standpoint, I just try to use what I have to help my team as much as possible, because the better that I do, obviously the better that our entire team is going to do.”
Caralisa has been a standout player at the University of Louisville since she stepped foot on campus. She may arguably be in discussion as one of the greatest softball pitchers in the school’s history. She expressed her thoughts on her collegiate legacy, and her journey from freshman to junior year.
“Well I think a lot of my freshman year, we had one pitcher throwing game after game after game. Going into sophomore year we didn’t have that particular situation. We had three pitchers who were all capable of doing what we needed to do. You get that game experience and get it under your belt. Every time you come into a game you’re like, ‘Oh well I been in that situation a million times before’ and then it’s a lot less stressful. With a legacy as a team, we want to go where no team before us has gone, and which for us is the Super Regional’s. So everyday we are working towards being known as the team that doesn’t give up, and is determined to get and do what we have to do to get what we want.”
Connell states that the team is riding on high expectations this season, and encouraged by last season going 55-5. Athletes tend to worry about other persons perspective or external expectations that could possibly hinder their own. She has been able to handle these concepts in different ways.
“For me it’s just thinking about, this is what we they expect me to do, but I can’t dwell on what they expect me to do I just have to know what I can do, because when you start to dwell on what their expecting you start feeling the pressure, and when you feel the pressure it’s in your head and it’s in everything you do, and your not as successful.”
This statement could be used as a vehicle for all college students striving toward their heart’s desire. Often times, students face adversity allowing another’s perception to compel them to act in a manner that doesn’t result in production. Connell implied certain skills that she uses in softball that can be utilized in everyday life as well.
Connell and the softball team faced adversity at the end of last season after having an incredible walk-off in the Big East tournament, but the end result in the regionals left an ill feeling for the unit. As a whole, the team believed they should have advanced farther than what they did. Despite the end result from last year’s season, Connell and the Cardinals have gone into this season focused and disciplined. She was asked about how she is able to transition that mindset and character from the athletic setting to the academic setting.
“Well sometimes it’s a little harder than others when your missing class to travel, but in school the time management becomes the biggest problem. The discipline and the focus are hard when you’re so tired, and when you are out of town. But you just think to yourself, ‘just get it done and move on.’ For me I make a to-do list. I am very list oriented, so at the beginning of every day I pull out my planner and write down all of the things I need to get done, and just try and go one-by-one until I reach the end.”
Connell has enjoyed doing community service and believes it bolds well to signify the works of the university. As she continues her softball career, she hopes that people will remember her with a central theme.
“I just try and do the best that I can every day, and when I leave that’s kind of what I want people to remember, that she did all that she could to reach the goals that she wanted to.”
Photos: Pete Cauilli/The Louisville Cardinal