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Softball benefits from two players’ long-term bond

BY IAN MARTIN | APRIL 27, 2010 7:30 AM

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Iowa softball player Katie Keim brought the wrong cleats to a game one day. Thankfully, teammate Chelsey Carmody had the same size, so the two shared during the contest.

“I brought two left cleats on a trip,” Keim said and laughed. “So we had to share cleats, and when she went out on the field, I’d just be sitting on the bench.”

This strange incident didn’t happen during the Big Ten season or even during their collegiate careers, but rather when the pair of Missourians first became teammates.

The two began playing youth ball together in the late 1990s. Keim jokingly described their first season together as teammates as “love at first sight.”

While the two didn’t end up at the same high school, they were together all through their formative years.

Moving as a pair to numerous travel teams, the two eventually ended up in the St. Louis Chaos organization. The softball club wasn’t just a one-season affair, but rather a group the girls would develop their skills with as the team moved up through the age groups.

The experience with the Chaos was important for them, because the two played on numerous teams finishing in the top 20 nationally for their age group. The 13-girl roster later produced 12 Division-I players and one who went on to a Division-II team.

On those successful teams, the tandem began their union as two players who just enjoyed playing together.

Keim and Carmody played the middle infield, and even at the youth level, began to understand each other’s games.

“Katie played second and Chelsey played short,” Chaos coach Evan Beatty said. “They knew where each person was going to be every single time. It almost got to the point where they didn’t have to communicate anymore.”

And now, even though Keim has moved to the hot corner, the two make up one of the toughest left infields in the Big Ten. Third baseman Keim and shortstop Carmody are praised by teammates for, among other things, their uncanny abilities to know each other’s every move.

“It’s one of those bonds where you can tell one knows what the other one’s thinking before the other one knows what she’s thinking,” Iowa catcher Liz Watkins said.

Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins, who Beatty said, recruited Keim after initially going to see the older Carmody play, agreed she has a valuable asset at her five and six positions.

“You see that friendship come on the field,” she said. “Especially because they play side-by-side, they know each other pretty well.”

The Hawkeyes will get the pair for only one more season. Keim is a sophomore, and Iowa will be without junior Carmody after the 2011 season. But while the team will have to find a replacement at shortstop, it may be the shortstop who may also have to search for a replacement.

“It’s just weird not having her next to me or across from me [when I play sports],” Carmody said.


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