Carbondale center fielder Olivia Clark-Kittleson tries to catch a ball Wednesday during the Terriers' win over the Tigers in Herrin.

Steve Matzker, The Southern

The Carbondale softball team is off to a good start, despite only playing six games because of bad weather.

The Terriers (4-2) split the South Seven Conference title with Centralia last season, and expectations are high this year. Olivia Clark-Kittleson, a senior who is batting .400 with six RBIs, is a standout for the team.

“Last year was a really good year for us, and we know we have a lot of potential this season,” Clark-Kittleson said. “We’re working really hard, and we know if we go into each game knowing we can win then we definitely can win. We have all bought into it this year.”

Carbondale knocked off a good Carterville squad, 4-1, on Saturday. After a tough 2-0 loss to Nashville a week earlier, the victory over Carterville was a signature win.

“We’re still on cloud nine about that win, and it hasn’t happened in quite a few years,” Clark-Kittleson said. “I think we went into that game saying we know we can play and compete with them. When we’re all on the same page we know we can do great things.”

Sophomore hurler Lindsey Sears notched a complete game in the circle.

“Lindsey has done a great job, and she worked really hard in the offseason,” Clark-Kittleson said. “You can just tell the strides she has made by watching her pitch. I think it helps that she has a good defense around her. She told me that I made her relax behind her in center field, and that made me feel really good about our team.”

Clark-Kittleson signed to play college softball at the University of Southern Indiana. Her junior season didn’t go as planned. She suffered a concussion after a collision at home plate against Marion and missed more than two weeks of games.

“I tried to avoid the catcher, but she ended up landing on my head with her whole body,” Clark-Kittleson said. “It happened in the first inning, and I ended up playing the rest of the game. I definitely saw stars, and I had a massive headache the rest of the game. But I didn’t know I had a concussion, and I just had to stay in and help us win that game.”

Clark-Kittleson comes from a great softball family. Her mother, sister and aunt all played at the collegiate level. Kim Wheeler has coached her in school softball and during the summer for 11 years.

“She’s been with me for a long time, and it’s been great to see her grow into a great person and a great player,” Wheeler said. “She loves the game and is a student of the game. It’s a blessing for me to be around kids who enjoy the game and want to get better. It’s very rewarding to know that she will play college softball. I couldn’t be happier to see her develop her game and take it to the next level.”

The Terriers travel to Centralia for a key conference matchup on Tuesday.


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