Two teams. Two positions. One dynamic player.
That's Chelsea Hartsell, a Central Cabarrus senior who is a four-year varsity starter on the Vikings' softball team.
Hartsell has been Central's catcher for the last two seasons, but with her showcase team she mostly plays shortstop. Standing out for both teams, at both positions, helped her land a scholarship to play at N.C. State University next year.
Hartsell started playing coach-pitch softball at age 7 and transitioned to fast-pitch when she was 10. She eventually played for several showcase teams including her current team, the Lady Lightning Gold.
She has played several positions for traveling teams over the years, mostly third base and shortstop. But when she made Central Cabarrus' varsity squad as a freshman in 2007, coach Monte Sherrill had something else in mind for her.
The Vikings program was at its most dominant, having won state championships in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, their first loss of the season came in the second round of the state playoffs. Cracking the starting lineup as a ninth-grader a year later was an accomplishment in itself, but Sherrill needed her in left field.
Hartsell responded with an all-conference season and helped the Vikings to a third-round appearance in the state tournament. The next year, with former Central Cabarrus player Kristi Killough as the Vikings' coach, Hartsell played third base and had another all-conference season.
Going into Hartsell's junior season, Central's long-time catcher, Ally Blake, graduated in January, leaving the Vikings with a huge void behind the plate. New head coach Donna Fera and assistant Doug Buckwell needed a leader in the position, and they tabbed Hartsell for the assignment.
Her new coaches knew what they were doing. In 20 games, Hartsell did not commit a single error at her new position and again made all-conference.
"Chelsea is a great blocker, she blocks the ball well in the dirt," said Buckwell. "She's intimidating back there. She has a strong arm. This year, no one has even tried to steal on her. It's the way she carries herself and being a leader helps her be a good catcher."
Late in the season, as Buckwell assumed the head coaching duties, he also used Hartsell as an emergency relief pitcher. No matter where she was, Hartsell, a career .347 hitter, always came through. She posted a 4-1 record with one save on the mound.
"I love to catch, but I never really wanted to stick with one position," said Hartsell. "I love being able to play different positions, it gives you the mindset that if I was there, I would do this. Give you a broader perspective of the game."
Hartsell is no slouch in the classroom either. Among her yearbook entries will be serving as secretary of the National Honor Society, treasurer of the Health Occupations Students of America club, and being a member of the Beta Club and student council.
She was Central Cabarrus' selection for the prestigious Wendy's High School Heisman award and was also nominated for UNC Chapel Hill's Morehead Scholarship. There was only one problem with her potentially receiving the scholarship from UNC: she had already agreed to accept N.C. State's softball scholarship offer.
"I was really thankful to be nominated as a Morehead finalist," she said. "But because I had already verbally committed, I chose to stick with State. I stand behind my word, and even though Carolina has a great academic program, I had already made my decision."
"I had already been granted a softball scholarship, and I knew that there was probably another student just as qualified for the Morehead as I that may have needed it more."
That's a good position to be in.