has had a lot of outstanding softball moments, but the 6-foot-2 senior from Daniel (Central, S.C.)
hopes her biggest moments are ahead of her.
Most recently, she pitched Daniel to South Carolina's 4A state title. In that title game, the hard-throwing right-hander struck out 15 and pitched a no-hitter. She was also clocked as high as 73 miles per hour.
In 2011, Hoover pitched Team North Florida to the ASA 18U Gold National Championship. In that title game, Hoover was clocked at 70 mph.
As a 6-foot-1 sixth grader in 2008, Hoover pitched her Simpsonville (South Carolina) team to the Little League World Series title. In that 2008 title game, Hoover was clocked at 61 mph as a 12-year old.
Notice a trend here? Hoover has continued to increase her velocity every year, and she has no plans to stop.
"I'd like to throw consistently in the mid-70s," said Hoover. "I
work out and lift every day and am getting stronger. I think it is
reachable and manageable."
Hoover hopes that her maximum velocity coincides with her next championship.
"I've had some great memories, but hope to be part of Stanford University's first national softball title," said Hoover, who chose the Cardinal as her next softball team.
Hoover also throws a rise ball, drop and slider, all in the upper 60s and low 70s. She also has a 57-58 mph change up — a speed most high school pitchers hope to reach for their fastball.
"I'm a power pitcher and my out-pitches used to be my screw and curve, but now they are my rise and drop," said Hoover. "I can throw my fastball inside and, with my speed, it works better than my screw. I'm really focusing on throwing three — rise, drop and change — as good as possible. I just trying to make everything I have as good as it can be before I add something else."
Hoover's stats would suggest they couldn't get much better. In leading Daniel to a 26-4 record and the state title, Hoover allowed just three earned runs, leading to a microscopic 0.15 ERA. She was 16-4 and allowed 29 base hits in 138 innings and struck out 338 batters.
That's right. She struck out 2.5 batters per inning.
"I've been blessed with size, ability and opportunities," said Hoover, who noted her parents have given her all the tools and materials to make it happen.
"They influenced me in a positive way, but pushed me to work hard," said Hoover, whose mother, Jolene, is the head volleyball coach at Clemson University. "My parents will let me do whatever I want sports-wise, just as long as I do it the right way."
Hoover's parents were standout collegians — Jolene on the volleyball court at Arizona State University and father Dave as a distance runner at Lewis University in Illinois.
Her private pitching coach is Denny Tincher, father of former Virginia Tech pitcher, Angela Tincher, who ranks third on the NCAA's Division I strikeout list with more than 2,000.
Former Olympian Michelle Smith taught Hoover how to throw her changeup.
"Whatever I do, I want to do it to the best of my ability," said Hoover. "My dad taught to me that if you are going to do something, why not be the best at it?"
During the regular season, Hoover shared pitching duties with teammate Jesse Carnes
, but when the playoffs started Hoover was in the circle and responded with 135 strikeouts in eight games. She allowed just 13 hits and walked 11 in those must-win games.
Three times this season, she struck out 21 batters in a game and she never gave up more than three hits in a game. She struck out almost 70 percent of the batters she faced.
As eye-popping as her pitching totals were, it was her stature in the batter's box that gained her national attention.
Hoover, who batted .500 this year, scored 45 runs in only 52 official bats. She walked 55 times this season and 157 times in her four-year career.
The majority of the walks were intentional.
In a dozen games this year, she was intentionally walked three times or more. She was put on base four times in eight different games and against Walhalla, she received a free pass five times. That strategy worked as Daniel lost, 4-3. And in a 3-2 loss to Palmetto, she was walked four times.
"She has the ability to drive the ball deep, so people walked her," said Daniel coach Kate Floyd. "We led her off so she'd get at least one at bat."
When given the opportunity, Hoover responded with 16 of her 26 base hits going for extra bases.
As a junior, she batted .475 and averaged more than an RBI per game. She was walked a state record 59 times.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the single-season base on ball record is 62, held by Tammy Cunningham (Trenton, N.J.). The career mark is 130 by Lacey Newbold
, who played for Crab Orchard (Ill.) from 2009-2012.
"At first, being walked so much was frustrating," said Hoover, an "A" student at Daniel. "But I've learned to accept it. It gets me on base a lot and we have other good hitters. It's the biggest compliment anyone can give you."
But when people talk about Hoover, they talk pitching.
"She's one of the best pitchers I've seen play the game," said Bobby Sowell, head coach at Hartsville (S.C.). "Her velocity is at the top of the scale for a softball player, regardless of age. Her pitches have very good movement and she seems to always pitch ahead in the count."
As a junior Hoover posted a 16-4 record in 138.2 innings, compiling a 0.50 ERA, 296 strikeouts and leading the Lions to the state final game.
"Carley's pitching stats could be even more impressive, but we have two standout pitchers on our Daniel team," said Floyd, almost apologetically as she praised Carnes, who was 7-0 and posted a 1.27 ERA as a senior and 9-2 record as a junior.
Asked about Hoover's greatest attribute, Floyd said, "Her presence is huge. She is obviously a great athlete, but she has matured this year in all aspects of her game. She has been the key to our success."
Floyd has been coaching Hoover on the Daniel varsity for six years. As a seventh and eighth grader, Hoover played outfield and first base.
"She's always had the size, power and strength. She was 6-foot-1 as a seventh grader and very athletic," said Floyd. "Her maturity showed this year, especially during our playoff run. What an amazing way to finish her high school career."
Always the biggest player on the diamond, Hoover remembers her dad carrying her birth certificate with him to prove she was young enough to play. Even when she played nose guard in the boys state youth tackle football program in grade school, she was the biggest player on the field.
Hoover, who was also a MaxPreps All-American in volleyball
, said her first love was actually volleyball. She admitted that ever since she was in sixth grade, she dreamed of attending Stanford to play volleyball.
"But I realized my best sport was softball and it would be the sport that would take me farther," said Hoover, who noted that despite being offered a volleyball scholarship from Clemson she never filled out the Tiger volleyball questionnaire. "It's always been Stanford for me when I walked on campus as a sophomore, I knew it was the fit for me."
She committed to Stanford during her sophomore year.
"I love volleyball, but softball is my passion now," said Hoover, who has an interest in studying communications.
A few weeks after her high school graduation, Hoover will head to Stanford for summer school and to prepare for her softball and academic life as a Cardinal.
"I am a good student, but I'm not going to be the smartest player on the (Stanford) team. I'm being realistic."
As a result of summer courses at Stanford, Hoover had to turn down an invitation to play for the U.S. Junior Women's team.
"That was a hard decision, but Stanford is a priority," said Hoover, who will play summer ball for the Chicago Bandits. "My goal at Stanford is to maintain a 3.0 grade point average, so getting there early is a good opportunity."
It's also part of the preparation toward Hoover's next goals: 75 mph-plus and Stanford's first national softball title.
As Hoover says, "If you're going to do it, why not be the best?"