Transfer Nia Carter Hopes For Fairytale Ending At Arkansas
When Nia Carter completed her junior year at the University of Iowa, she had already put together quite a college softball tenure, boasting a career batting average of over .400 and an on-base percentage of .448.
She had continuously improved each season, finishing the 2022 campaign ranked second in the Big Ten in both hits and batting average. However, behind the scenes, she put pressure on herself as she tried to replicate her standout freshman year, which was shortened by COVID-19.
So, during the 2023 season, according to Carter, she did not pay much attention to stats, records or accolades. Instead, she focused on just having fun. And with the support of her teammates and a sense of comfort and purpose at the plate, Carter took the Big Ten by storm.
By the end of her senior campaign at Iowa, Carter ranked first in the conference in hits (101), batting average (.479) and on-base percentage (.527). Her hits total was good for second in all of Division 1 softball and her batting average was the third-best mark in the country. She became only the second player in Big Ten history to have at least 100 hits in a single season and earned SA Third-Team All-America honors as a result. She now holds Iowa's program records for hits in one season and career batting average (.415).
“I just wanted to have fun playing in my senior year at Iowa,” said Carter. “I really enjoyed playing with those girls and I was just kind of playing with no pressure, and I think that’s what really helped me.”
A California native, Carter has an extensive history of athletic success in her family. Her dad and uncle played baseball at Seattle University and are in the athletics hall of fame there. Her mom, meanwhile, played basketball at Seattle Pacific University, her brother played baseball at Bethune-Cookman University, her cousin currently plays for the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL and the list goes on.
When the time came to choose a place to play college softball, Carter’s parents encouraged her to forge her own path and go wherever would provide her with the most support. With one year of NCAA eligibility still remaining in her collegiate softball career, that path now includes a stop at the University of Arkansas.
After choosing to enter the transfer portal following last season, it did not take long for Carter to find a new school. She says choosing to play for Arkansas was a no-brainer.
“The past success that this team has had and how passionate Coach Deifel is with the girls and how personable all the coaches are, I think that’s what really drew me in,” said Carter.
She joins a Razorbacks squad that is coming off another 40-win season and is a program that has made the NCAA Tournament six straight years, including three Super Regionals appearances.
The addition of Carter to the Arkansas lineup adds to an already loaded 2024 roster that includes senior Rylin Hedgecock, who returns after a breakout season in which she led the squad with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs, sophomore Reagan Johnson, who is back after leading the team in batting average (.378) and hits (79) in 2023 and Bri Ellis, the 2022 SEC Freshman of the Year, who racked up 34 home runs in two seasons at Auburn.
In the circle, sophomore Robyn Herron is back after recording eight wins and 107 strikeouts last season. Two transfers, Morgan Leinstock from Southern Mississippi and Reis Beuerlein from Mississippi State, add depth to the rotation.
The only hurdle remaining for Arkansas' program is making an appearance in Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series. And that's exactly why Carter chose the Razorbacks in the first place.
"I want to go to Regionals and just play at the highest stage for my fifth year," Carter said. "Arkansas is more than capable of going to the World Series."