Carmody and Keim separated


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It's a routine play.

A grounder to the right side of the infield is snagged by second baseman Katie Keim, who flips it to shortstop Chelsey Carmody as she covers second base. They get the out.

For most ballplayers, this play is normal and natural, but for the Iowa softball team, the sequence is even more ordinary as Keim flips the ball to her best friend.

Carmody, a senior, and Keim, a junior, have played softball together since they were 7 and 8 years old. Carmody's and Keim's sisters played soccer together, so when the pair started playing softball together, they already knew each other, and their friendship bloomed fast, Keim said.

Keim and Carmody hail from Chesterfield and Pacific, Mo., respectively — which are approximately 20 miles apart. The two were on the same travel team and even played against each other in high school in both softball and basketball. Their friendship brings an extra level of team unity to the Hawkeye infield.

But against Penn State on Sunday, the duo played together for the last time.

"Katie's always been a little sister to me," Carmody said as she pulled a crumpled tissue from the back pocket of her uniform and dabbed at her tearing eyes. "She's part of my family. It's really hard that this is going to be the last time I get to play with her, but she's a big reason for my success throughout all my years here."

Carmody's senior year has been more than successful. Early on, Carmody tallied a then-nation-leading hit streak of 25 games, from Feb. 12 to March 18. She tallied 59 hits for the year, finishing with a batting average of .362.

In addition to Carmody's success at the plate, she dominated in the field as well. The senior racked up 103 assists and 75 putouts, many of them played to and from Keim at second base.

"When you know someone as well they do, you kind of know how they're thinking, and they respond to certain situations. They can read each other's actions," head coach Marla Looper said. "But it also goes beyond that. They know how to respond to each other and encourage each other and kick each other in the butt to make sure they're both being challenged and working hard."

Looper said the change shouldn't affect the team's total chemistry, however. Keim might struggle emotionally with Carmody's absence, but she and the rest of the team will be able to adjust to Carmody's absence.

"We're going to miss Carmody. Period," Looper said. "Her leadership and her abilities on the field were just invaluable to us. But when it comes to the chemistry, I think it's always challenging when you graduate seniors. As much as you want to try to maintain the chemistry you do, if you change one person on the squad, all the chemistry changes. And we go through that every year, so it won't be too much for the team to handle."

Keim agreed that she will have to adjust to next year's new shortstop.

"It's going be a little different because we know each other so we don't really have to talk that much," Keim said. "We can play off each other really well. During a play, I can just think, 'Oh, she'll be there, I know she's going to be there,' so it's going to be really different when she's not."

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