Throughout her first three years on the varsity softball diamond at Seneca High School, Maggie Carpenter managed to compete in only one.
After an amazing breakout freshman campaign as a pitcher in 2017, Carpenter fell on some rough times.
Tommy John surgery to her right, pitching elbow sidelined her for all of her sophomore season. After her recovery entering her junior year, the COVID-19 outbreak dashed her plans to show how well she had rebounded as a second consecutive softball season was lost.
But despite playing in only 37 games so far in her prep career at SHS, Carpenter managed to capitalize on her early success with the Lady Irish along with an elite travel softball schedule that has now set her up in an impressive way.
Recently, Carpenter inked a NCAA Division I Letter of Intent to attend Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C. There, she will continue her promising softball career with plans of majoring in business and Christian studies even though all had seemed lost after her devastating injury and then the pandemic.
"The last two years have been tough for me, there's no doubt about that," Carpenter said. "But it feels a lot better knowing that I have this amazing opportunity with CSU.
"I've always been a player that's wanted to compete at the Division I level ever since I could pick up a softball. Now that it's official, I'm super excited that all my hard work over the last couple of years has paid off and has given me a great reality moving forward into college."
CSU softball is a member of the nine-team Big South Conference and is coached by native Illinoisan Venus Taylor, who is a 1993 graduate of Orion High School and a 1998 grad and Hall of Fame member at Western Illinois University. She was head coach at Bradley University in Peoria (2003-05) and with Judson University in Elgin (2014-18) before taking over the Buccaneers' helm two years ago.
Taylor feels blessed to have Carpenter as one of her top five recruits who will first compete during the spring of 2022.
"The thing that I like about Maggie is that she's very versatile as a pitcher who can really spin it, but when she came to our camp initially she also had a great attitude that I thought would fit in so well with our culture," Taylor said.
"She had a very strong presence coming back from Tommy John surgery, and that says a lot. I'm impressed with her mental toughness and that she blended so well and bonded with our team.
"I know she'll have great success at CSU."
Before that, however, Carpenter hopes to see a senior season at Seneca that is ripe with promise that hasn't been realized since she posted a remarkable 18-3 record in the circle through 126 innings pitched with a 2.36 earned-run average and 190 strikeouts three seasons ago.
"I was joking at Maggie's signing ceremony that I've told so many people about her, but I've never coached her a single inning," said SHS softball coach Brian Holman, who took over for Illinois Coaches Association Hall of Fame bench boss Dan Stecken following Stecken's retirement from coaching after Carpenter's injury-plagued sophomore year.
"I'm hopeful that we'll get our season in later in 2021, and if we do, I can't wait to see Maggie perform.
"To have a future DI pitcher leading us will be pretty special."