“It’s been a long time coming” as Calhoun senior Carlie Henderson officially put pen to paper, signing with the University of South Carolina on Wednesday at the Calhoun High School Media Center. Henderson, Calhoun Softball’s leadoff hitter for the previous three seasons, will start at USC in the fall of 2020.
“I’d say for the past four or five years, I’ve been committed and going up there all the time and now it’s just exciting that it’s finally here,” Henderson said. “Ever since signing that paper, I was just ecstatic.”
Henderson said the University of South Carolina and the softball program stood out early on, especially the Columbia atmosphere.
“The campus, the coaches, the players, it just felt like home the minute I stepped on campus,” Henderson said. “I knew it was the one.”
Carlie Carlie Carlie could clearly hit the ball, recording a .310 batting average during the 2019 season with 35 hits, nine doubles and two triples. Career-wise for the Lady Jackets, Henderson smacked a .435 average with exactly 200 hits, 28 doubles, six triples and 47 RBIs, as evidently she could do it.
“It’s something she’s worked really hard for,” Calhoun Softball head coach Diane Smith said. “She set a good example for her teammates, those that want to go and continue their softball career at the next level. They’ve got to realize they’ve got to do more than just show up for practice and play during the season.”
Henderson will join fellow CHS alumna Jana Johns on the South Carolina softball roster.
“I was looking at some pictures the other day when (Henderson) was like a freshman and she was just so little,” Smith said. “It’s great ... to have a kid play that level of ball. Already got one over there, and now to have another one, I can’t wait to go watch her play.”
Henderson said the biggest lesson she’s learned over her softball career is adversity and how to handle it.
“Adversity is tough, but I’m thankful that I’ve been taught how to deal with it and bounce back and become stronger,” Henderson said. “This game is a game of failure, but you’ve got to know how to bounce back and come back even stronger.”
Smith said Henderson has grown all the way around throughout her varsity softball career.
“She’s a team leader (and) her teammates look up to her,” Smith said. “She was an outstanding defensive player. She’s very knowledgeable of the game. Offensively, she’s a good slapper. She focuses on that base hit and that’s what you want out of a player. You want somebody that’ll get on base.”
Carlie’s older sister, Cassie, played four years of softball at CHS from 2013-2016, becoming a three-time state champion. Henderson will head to USC with one state title of her own, earned in 2017.
“She kind of set the tone,” Carlie said about her older sister, now at West Georgia University. “She’s a great athlete and I’m lucky I get to look up to her. She’s a phenomenal person ... so I’m thankful to have her as my sister.”
Carlie signed Wednesday afternoon alongside many family members, Calhoun City Schools administrators and friends.
“They’ve all had a role in this journey, especially my family,” Henderson said in reference to the people who came out Wednesday afternoon. “They’ve sacrificed so much for me to be able to live out my dream and I’m just thankful for everybody.”
“She’s put in the time and now she’s going to reap the rewards,” Smith said. “We’re very proud of her. She’s going to do well over there, no doubt about it.”