The Arkansas Razorbacks softball team landed a legend for 2024.
Nia Carter, a former University of Iowa outfielder, is transferring to Arkansas for her fifth and final college softball season. Considering the incredible accomplishments that Carter tallied during her Iowa tenure, her transfer might be all Arkansas needs to return to the Women's College World Series.
While Carter's collegiate career stats are extremely impressive — .415 batting average (best all-time at Iowa), .465 on base percentage, 237 hits, and 96 runs scored — her senior season numbers are mind-blowing. In 2023, she led the entire Big Ten in three categories: batting average (.479), hits (101), and on base percentage (.527). Those 101 hits set Iowa's single-season hit record and made Carter just the second player in Big Ten History to eclipse 100 hits in a season — which earned her Softball America Third-Team All-American honors.
Bringing Carter on board is seismic for Arkansas, but it's also surprising, considering that Carter is a California native. However, when Softball America asked Nia why she chose Arkansas for her final season, Carter said, "The past success that [Arkansas] 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."
Carter has a point. She joins a Razorbacks roster that went 40-19 in 2023 and has made the NCAA Tournament six straight years, including three Super Regionals appearances. The All-American outfielder will likely be placed at the top of an already loaded lineup that includes senior Rylin Hedgecock, who led the team with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs last year, sophomore Reagan Johnson, who led the team in batting average (.378) and hits (79) in 2023, and other big-time transfer Bri Ellis, the 2022 SEC Freshman of the Year who racked up 34 home runs in two seasons at Auburn before coming to Arkansas this summer.
Now the question is whether adding Carter and Bri Ellis will be enough to get Arkansas past the Super Regionals. The Razorbacks made the Supers in both 2021 and 2022, but lost to Arizona and then Texas, which meant that the Razorbacks first ever Women's College World Series appearance remained out of reach.
Will the 2024 team break through to college softball's biggest stage? Only time will tell. What's for sure is that Arkansas fans have much to be excited about this upcoming season.
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