Charlotte Catholic junior Carrie Eberle made a major decision about her future in September when she verbally committed to play softball at Virginia Tech.
Eberle, named all-state in softball for the second straight season in spring, is following in her parents’ footsteps. Her father, T.J., and mother, Missie, are both Virginia Tech graduates, and she is getting the opportunity to continue her academic and athletic career at a school she calls “her second home.”
The Eberle’s are Hokie football season-ticket holders.
With her softball decision out of the way, Eberle now is enjoying her best season for the Cougars’ basketball team under coach Bobby Conrad.
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The 6-foot-1 center is averaging a career-best 10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, and 2.9 steals per game. She also was named the Colvard Oil Holiday Tournament MVP after scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the tournament championship game, a 46-39 Catholic win against Ashe County.
“I’m a very competitive person no matter what I am playing. I don’t like to lose at anything,” said Eberle, who plays softball year-round for Team NC. “Committing to (Virginia) Tech is definitely a stress reliever because I don’t have focus on the all the recruiting stuff. But all of this makes me want to work even harder and get even better at everything I do.”
Eberle, 16, established herself as a key player on the Charlotte Catholic basketball team as a freshman, earning a starting spot on varsity.
For most of her freshman and sophomore seasons, she was a role player, averaging a combined six points, six rebounds and one block per contest.
This year, Eberle, a team co-captain, is putting up career numbers in nearly every category and is a big reason why the Cougars are off to an 11-2 start with wins against Berry, Charlotte Latin and Harding.
Eberle has had several double-doubles, including a 16-point, 16-rebound effort against Berry on Dec. 11, and 14 points and 10 rebounds in a victory against Covenant Day on Dec. 9.
She also had 10 blocked shots in a narrow loss to Butler on Dec. 5 and eight blocks in a loss to Sweet 16 No. 1 Myers Park on Dec. 3.
Eberle showed her versatility with 17 points and six steals in a win against Cardinal Newman (S.C.) on Dec. 19.
“Carrie has really stepped up her game in every way this year,” said Conrad, in his ninth season as the Cougars girls’ head coach.
“She doesn’t have to score to be effective. She is also capable of taking over a game on the boards or on defense. I think her ability to block shots and affect shots and even make steals is a big reason why we have been able to defend the way we have this season. She does a lot for us.”
Eberle said she loves defense. “I actually like playing defense more than offense because it gives you a chance to be aggressive,” said Eberle, whose Cougars are holding opponents to fewer than 30 points per game. “I love blocking shots, because it’s not only a great way to get a (defensive) stop but it can shift momentum to us and affect the way a team plays.”
The Cougars also get major contributions from co-captains and three-year starters shooting guard Stephanie Ferraro (7.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.6 steals per game), a senior, and junior forward Melissa Roulier (6.6 points, 5.6 rebounds per game).
Conrad said freshman point guard Maggie Dupre (9.1 points per game) and sophomore Krystal Mainsah (5.5 ppg) have also been big factors.
“I don’t want to say this has been a surprising start, but we have had a lot of young players step up, and it’s been really great to watch this team grow together,” Conrad said. “This team has really had to work together, we don’t depend on one or two star players.”
The Cougars believe they can be better than their 19-win season from a year ago, and also that they can challenge Ardrey Kell for the top spot in the SoMeck 8 Conference.
Conrad says that with the current roster, the players on a talented Cougars junior-varsity team and with the various middle-school programs that feed Charlotte Catholic, the Cougars have a chance to be as good as they have been during his tenure.
“I think this group has a chance to be as good as the teams we had (2007-2010) that won 71 games in three years,” Conrad said. “We are definitely getting back to where we can compete for a conference title every year and be in position to make a run in the playoffs. Our goal is to always be there.”
Eberle said she just wants to improve and enjoy the ride.
“It feels great to be playing well and winning, and it feels like it’s all coming together for us,” Eberle said. “I think it really shows the progress we’ve made as a program and as a team.
“It’s great to be a part of that success and be working to becoming a better overall player.”