Offensive powerhouse Nia Carter leaves mark on Iowa softball program

The senior from Rancho Cucamonga, California, will go down as one of the most threatening players at the plate in Iowa history.


Emily Nyberg

Iowa’s Nia Carter runs to second base during a softball game between Rutgers and Iowa at the Bob Pearl Softball Field in Iowa City on Friday, April 28, 2023. The Scarlet Knights defeated the Hawkeyes 5-3.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Whenever Iowa softball head coach Renee Gillispie called upon Nia Carter, she had an answer.

In her first collegiate at-bat as a freshman, Carter lifted the Hawkeyes over the East Carolina Pirates, 6-5, with a pinch-hit walk-off single at the 2020 Kickin’ Chicken Classic.

Since then, Carter proved herself as more than just a one-hit wonder throughout her four years in Iowa City. The senior right fielder and 2023 first-team All-Big Ten selection will go down as one of the most threatening players at the plate in Iowa history.

“There’s not enough time in the day to talk about how much Nia means to this program,” Gillispie said. “She’s become a great leader.”

Carter missed just one game throughout her time as a Hawkeye.

She was hitting .413 over her career, as of May 8, and is looking to break Iowa’s individual career batting record. It is held by four-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and shortstop Megan Blank who hit .410 in her Hawkeye campaign from 2012-15. Carter is currently tied for second in program history with 92 hits this season and ranks eighth all-time at Iowa with 228 career hits.

But as natural as softball comes to Carter, the sport wasn’t her first love.  The Rancho Cucamonga, California, product showcased her talents on stage before trading in her tap shoes for cleats.

She started playing travel ball at 12 years old, but it wasn’t until she joined the Corona Angels under head coach Marty Tyson at 14 that she discovered her dreams of playing at the collegiate and professional levels.

Carter said she was inspired by outfielder Aaliyah Jordan and shortstop Sami Williams, who were on an older team when she joined the Angels. Jordan and Williams went on to become first-team All-Americans for UCLA, and Iowa State, respectively.

“Ever since playing with the Corona Angels, that kind of catapulted my whole career,” Carter said. “Marty Tyson is very knowledgeable about the game of softball, and I think he was what brought me to this next level of play. He definitely gets his girls ready for college.”

Carter originally committed to Louisville under head coach Michael Lotief, but she decommitted after he was fired.

Gillispie found Carter through Tyson and set up a visit. Carter said she knew from the first time she went to Iowa City that it was the right place for her. Carter added the people in Iowa and their passion for Hawkeye athletics drew her in.

“I’ve made some of the bestest friends and met some of the greatest people here,” Carter said.  “I’m so thankful that I ended up here. Iowa really is a place like no other. It really is a home away from home for me. I’m so thankful that coach Renee brought me here my freshman year. It’s just been a blessing, honestly.”

Carter has an extra year of eligibility left because of COVID-19. She said she is in the transfer portal and isn’t sure where she will spend her final collegiate season.

She said she is not opposed to coming back to Iowa City and being closer to home is not a priority for her. Carter said her parents visit frequently, and she knows they will come and watch her play wherever she lands.

“It was due to money reasons,” Carter said about entering the transfer portal. “I’m going to have a meeting with the coaches at the end of the year just to see where that still stands, but nothing is final yet.”