Maybe this was always meant to be for Carmen Deisher, who will cap her softball career as Oakland City University shortstop in the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series starting Tuesday in Easton, S.C.
“Mom and dad didn’t play sports. Mom was into cheerleading,” said the Mount Carmel-bred 21-year-old daughter of waitress Sailin Deisher and welder Steve Deisher.
“But I was more of a tomboy. And mom and dad could tell that I was athletic.
“I started playing softball tee ball at 5 or 6 and I’ve always loved the sport. So many people have helped me along the way as coaches and teachers. I’ve been treated so well all these school years and I knew long ago that I wanted to give back by becoming a teacher.”
Mission accomplished. In April, a couple months after she started student teaching second grade elementary reading at Highland Community School on Evansville’s north edge, she was offered a full-time job at Highland as third grade teacher. She’ll start that career in August, not quite two months after celebrating her 22nd birthday July 22.
The 2017 Mount Carmel grad will celebrate that birthday as the wife of 2018 Mount Carmel grad Brayden Peterson, whom she’ll marry June 5 at the Bauerhouse in Darmstadt. Brayden will graduate from the University of Southern Indiana next May after playing golf two years at Lincoln Trail, the Robinson, Ill., junior college that 18-year-old brother Jack Deisher will enter on soccer scholarship after Saturday’s Mount Carmel graduation. The Deisher family also includes 11-year-old fifth grade brother River.
Their sister is a role model for Jack and River. A four-year Mount Carmel starter in both volleyball as a middle hitter and softball as shortstop and sometimes other positions, she made the All-Big Eight Conference Volleyball Team as a senior. In softball, where her teammates included just graduated University of Evansville standout Eryn Gould, she became All-Big Eight as a sophomore, the Lady Golden Aces’ Hitter of the Year as a junior and their Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Always an academic standout, Deisher made the Dean’s List all four of her junior college semesters at junior college Rend Lake in Ina, Ill., and in all four Oakland City University semesters capped by May 1 graduation as an elementary education major with a 3.92 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
She received OCU softball’s Scholar-Athlete Award during the April 29 all-sports banquet, plus National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Scholar-Athlete and Champions of Character awards and River States Conference Scholar-Athlete Award.
“Carmen is both an amazing student and an amazing shortstop,” Lady Oaks Coach Patti Buchta said after the team qualified for the World Series by winning the NCCAA Mideast Regional on the East Gibson Softball League field.
Pursuit of a master’s degree will wait. “First I want to teach a couple years, start giving back right away,” said Deisher, who began playing travel softball as Gould’s teammate on the Mount Carmel Crushers and then on the Extreme, a travel team from Flat Rock, Ill., near Robinson.
“Our Extreme teams played a lot in Missouri and Tennessee, and also in a World Series in Florida,” she said.
“Nicole Dunlap, who coached the Extreme, had played softball at Wabash Valley College. I contacted Wabash Valley and McKendree, but no offers. Nicole knew Dave Ellingsworth, the Rend Lake Coach, and contacted him for me. I visited Rend Lake, talked with Dave, and he gave me a scholarship that covered everything but housing. Rend Lake was meant to be”
Playing second base for the first time, Deisher batted .425 as a freshman. As a sophomore shortstop she hit .373. “Second base was new to me, but I enjoyed the position. But I’ve always enjoyed shortstop,” she said.
“Two weeks before Rend Lake graduation, Patti Buchta came to one of our games. A week later, I visited campus at her invitation. I loved the campus and knew the school had an amazing elementary education program. And it’s close to home.
“Cyndi Boggs, who teaches elementary reading and is the student teaching supervisor, was my advisor. I owe so much to her.”
In the 2020 softball season that COVID-19 shortened to 11 games, Deisher batted .425 with a .625 slugging percentage. “I filled in for our third baseman McKendree Ward when she was still playing basketball, and played shortstop when Bailey Davis was hurt,” she said.
This season, having started 41 games at shortstop, Deisher is batting .279 with a .372 slugging percentage and 16 RBIs, the last two on the fifth-inning double that capped the May 7 regional final win over Alice Lloyd, whose Lady Eagles are also World Series-bound. Their two regional wins over that team gave OCU a six-game win skein and 9-of-10 streak to take to South Carolina — a month after owning a 7-25 record that included a 14-game losing streak.
“All that losing was very upsetting,” she said. “We didn’t know what we had to do to fix things. But we knew we had the potential to be great. We stayed positive and competitive — no quit.
“After lining the ball into gaps last year, I was hitting the ball at people much of this season. That was frustrating, but I kept trying hard.”
Deisher’s game-ending double, her second May 7, capped a 3-for-3 performance with three RBIs. In the previous day’s 9-8 win over Alice Lloyd, her only hit was a bunt. But after the visitors filled the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, she caught a line drive and threw to Ward for the game-ending double play. And in the regional final she prevented an Alice Lloyd rally in the top of the fifth by trapping a line drive that hit dirt in front of her feet, tagging the lead runner and throwing to second baseman Khloye Strickland to finish that twin killing.
“It feels amazing to be going to the World Series. Until this year I’d never won a regional in my life,” Deisher said.
“We’re such a team. My teammates are my best friends. When we’re away from each other, we’re anxious to get back together.
“I think we have a good chance go win the national championship.”
Many Lady Oaks plan to attend Deisher’s June 5 wedding in which two former teammates will have roles. “Kasey Pearson, my Mount Carmel and travel ball teammate who played for Frontier College against our Rend Lake team, and is still playing for the Indiana-Southeast team that we play, will be my bridesmaid. So will Sydney Williams, my teammate both years at Rend Lake.”
Will the bride wear both a wedding ring and World Series champion ring?