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Jaci-of-all-trades keys Cougars success
by Aaron Retherford
Apr 07, 2008 | 847 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<B>Tribune/Chris Ellis</b> - Senior catcher Jaci Carlsen has been a huge part of the success the Spanish Springs softball team has enjoyed the past few years.
Tribune/Chris Ellis - Senior catcher Jaci Carlsen has been a huge part of the success the Spanish Springs softball team has enjoyed the past few years.
Jaci Carlsen has versatility that coaches dream of.

She's earned all-league honors at three different positions (third base, shortstop, catcher) in each of her three full years with the Spanish Springs softball team. She has also been named all-state at shortstop and catcher during her sophomore and junior campaigns respectively.

"Jaci is one of those players you can put anywhere. She's very versatile," SSHS coach Jeff Davidson said. "If you told her she needed to play outfield, she'd go out there and do a great job in the outfield also."

Carlsen has needed to show her versatility behind the plate this year with the Cougars throwing three different pitchers for the first time.

Carlsen is used to catching seniors Mallary Darby and Annalee Rubio, who pitched in every inning on the way to a state title last year. But this year, junior Ashley Collier has seen some action in the circle in order to prepare the Cougars for life after Darby and Rubio next season.

"It's difficult because everyone is different," Davidson said. "I used to catch in baseball, and it's a challenge to handle a staff. If you're catching one pitcher all the time you tend to know their patterns. But when you have two or three pitchers throwing, their balls move differently. She has to be focused at all times in order to handle all the pitchers we throw out there."

Last year, Carlsen hit .528 and scored a team-high 51 runs. She also drove in 45 runs and belted out seven home runs. She currently is hitting third in the batting order and has been extremely valuable on a team with enough talent to send over half its players on to the collegiate level.

"Jaci has been great for the three years she has been here and this being her fourth," Davidson said. "Everybody looks up to Jaci. She loves hitting in the clutch. She doesn't always come through in the clutch, but she relishes that role. When we need a big hit, she's the one who wants to be up. Jaci has been tremendous handling the pitching staff. There's really nothing negative to say about her. Jaci is really a key to our team both offensively and defensively."

Carlsen is one of the nine players who have either signed to play college softball next year or who have verbally committed to a school for the future.

"It's just nice because everyone on the team is getting looks from different colleges. All of us make each other play better and at a higher level," Carlsen said.

She will be taking her skills to Cal State Northridge of the Big West Conference where she will be mainly playing third base. She also considered Nevada and University of Illinois at Chicago.

"It's just exciting for all the hard work I put in to be able to go play collegiate ball someplace that is really competitive," Carlsen said.

But for now, the Spanish Springs senior is just focused on repeating as state champs and enjoying the team chemistry along the way.

"The success has been wonderful, but even if we weren't winning, I think we'd have a great time because of the people on the team and how we are together," she said.

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