Carpenter sets career win record

Junior pitcher Hillary Carpenter warms up during practice in the 2015 season. Carpenter picked up win No. 49 in her career last week, setting the school record for career wins. She would go on to break the record March 5 against West Florida.

Adding to her storied softball career, junior left-handed pitcher Hillary Carpenter broke a school record after earning win No. 49 as a Lion.

Carpenter (11-2, one save) hit this milestone following UNA’s complete three-game sweep at Shorter University. Although she has been racking up numbers for the Lions (21-4, 7-2 Gulf South Conference) since her first year at UNA, Carpenter is only focused on winning a championship, she said.

Carpenter hit the No. 50 milestone after a 3-0 shutout win against West Florida March 5, as she threw a complete game, allowing three hits.

“I really couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches,” Carpenter said. “I’m so glad I get to share this accomplishment with them.”

Carpenter said she has more faith in this team than ever and is confident in them for the rest of the season.

The Lions are sixth in the NFSA Top 25 Coaches Poll, climbing two spots from their previous No. 8 rank.

“We are awesome in the field, and our bats have really come together when we’ve needed them,” Carpenter said.

Although her playing ability brings a lot to the table, there is more to Carpenter than talented softball, said head coach Ashley Cozart.

“She has great grades and has received several academic awards,” Cozart said. “She is a team favorite and also gives lessons to younger players in the community.”

Cozart said she is proud of Carpenter and her accomplishments.

“She plays the game like a warrior,” Cozart said. “Nothing ever seems to rattle her or intimidate her and with her on the mound, we have a chance to win any game we play.”

Carpenter is a graduate of Hatton High School, located about 30 minutes from UNA’s campus.

As high school and college teammates, Carpenter has developed a strong friendship with junior third baseman Danya Snead on and off the field, Snead said.

“If you didn’t know Hillary, you wouldn’t know she played softball because she is so humble in the things that she does,” Snead said. “She’s been an amazing pitcher since I’ve known her.”

Snead and Carpenter were rivals in grade school before becoming teammates at Hatton, but Snead said she is happy they reunited.

“I’ve been at the plate against Hillary before I moved to Hatton, and all I can say is that I’m glad she’s on my team and not the opposing,” Snead said. “She is a very strong, dominating pitcher.

Assistant coach Whitney Hawkins works primarily with the team’s pitching staff. Carpenter said she relies on Hawkins more than anyone because she has put so much time into improving her pitching.

“If I ever get the opportunity to coach, I hope I am half as helpful and special to my players as she is to me,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter is in her third season at UNA, but many believe her success began as early as her first season.

“Her freshman year, she received Pitcher of the Year and led us to our third regional in school history,” Cozart said. “Hillary is every college coaches’ dream. She works hard. She is a heck of a softball pitcher and an even better person.”

Carpenter and the Lions go on the road March 12 for a three-game series against Lee University.