Carr signs to play softball for U.Va.

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2023

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Windsor High School senior Melissa Carr was joined by a crowd of more than 100 people Friday, Dec. 9, at the high school as she signed to play college softball for the University of Virginia.

Included in the crowd were her family, coaches, teammates and many other friends.

Carr has played softball for about nine years. Dreaming of playing college ball for eight of those years, Carr shared what it meant to now be signing to play at the NCAA Division I level.

“Coming from a small town, it’s very rare that somebody does it,” she said. “I’m just glad I can represent Windsor in a way. It’s just been a long journey, and I’ve had so many people in my life here at Windsor that have helped me along the way to get where I am today.”

By this coming spring, Carr will have been a four-year member of Windsor’s varsity softball team, and she has also risen up through the Orion Hunter Elite travel ball program, from the 10U level to 18U.

Nicole McGowan, who has coached Carr throughout her Orion Hunter tenure, spoke at the signing ceremony Friday and described Carr as a special, talented kid from an amazing family who is “as good of a person as she is an athlete, beautiful inside and out.”

McGowan said she is proud of the woman Carr has become and wished her the best of luck moving forward.

Larry Murphy, another of Carr’s Orion Hunter coaches, spoke prior to McGowan and also delivered immense praise.

“To watch her grow over these last seven or eight years, the last five of which I coached her, has just been one of the greatest enjoyments that I have had,” Murphy said. “I never had a player that when you’re talking to a college coach, every single college coach would just go, ‘Who’s that?’ And (Melissa) was that girl.”

Carr’s father, Tracy Carr, who has coached some of her teams and taken her to and from many practices, games and tournaments over the years, said it was awesome to see her reach the level of achievement she is at now, signing with a D1 school.

“I can remember times that when she wanted to go to that next level, we’d come home from a tournament and we’d have the headlights on, on two vehicles, out there practicing after a tournament,” he said. “So she worked very hard to get there, and that just makes me very proud of what she’s accomplished.”

Primarily a catcher, Melissa is such a significant softball talent that on the first day that Division I coaches could contact her during her junior year of high school, she received calls from U.Va., Eastern Carolina University, Boston University, James Madison University, Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Cornell University, Princeton University, George Mason University and Norfolk State University.

“She had a big decision, and she went through the whole process and thought everything out,” Tracy Carr said.

Melissa ultimately chose U.Va. because of the pronounced atmosphere of family cultivated by the team.

“My first visit, it was like I was already a part of the team, basically,” she said.

The school also suits Carr’s academic goals that are focused around her getting into veterinary school.

She said that U.Va. coaches have told her they want her to come in as a starting catcher during her freshman year.

“But even going in like that, it’s a lot of work you have to put in too, especially in the classroom and by yourself and with your coaches with a one-on-one or a little group,” she said. “I have (an Orion Hunter) teammate from last year that actually goes there now, so she’s given me a little insight of what it’s like, and I feel like I’m going to fit in very well there.”

Carr gave a speech at her signing ceremony, fighting tears as she thanked her many coaches, teammates, friends and family. 

Addressing the large crowd, she said, “Thank you to everyone that came. Each and every one of you have influenced me along the journey whether it was on the field, (in the) classroom or in life. Thank you all for letting me and my family share this special moment with you. It takes a village, and we did it. Go ’Hoos!”