March 31, 2015
By Teagan Dillon ’18
When asked if she has any good luck charms, the face of Notre Dame softball sophomore All-American Karley Wester instantly lit up.
“Well, I have two bows that I wear all the time,” Wester says. “They were made by one of my teammates’ mom, Julie Sullivan. I think they look really good, and frankly they just work well for me.”
With one of the most successful freshman seasons in Notre Dame softball history under her belt, and high expectations for this year, they must be doing the trick. Because beneath the girly bows lies a mighty left-handed hitter and a determined athlete on the diamond.
Despite the fact that she is only a sophomore, Wester’s rÃƒÆ’Â©sumÃƒÆ’Â© boasts accolades that many more experienced players do not. In addition to being the second freshman in program history to earn All-America recognition, Wester was the ACC Freshman of the Year, first-team all-ACC, and she led the conference with a .455 batting average (ninth-best average nationally) in 2014.
Among these honors, however, being acknowledged as an All-American was the most meaningful to Wester.
“Every little girl who plays softball dreams of being an All-American,” she says. “To be an All-American my freshman year, I was just very grateful. It was just an awesome feeling.”
Coming off of a stellar freshman season, there was no denying the lofty expectations for Wester for this year. Though her goal last year was simply to make an impact and help the team, she has been careful to keep herself grounded and focused on doing the same this year.
“Nothing has really changed,” Wester says. “I just keep doing what I was doing, putting the ball in play and playing my game. I guess if anything, I just can’t let last year get to my head. I just have to keep doing what I did then.”
Luckily, with teammates as selfless as hers it will not be too difficult.
“Nobody on this team is thinking, `It’s all about me,'” the Huntington Beach, California, native says. “So everybody on this team is supporting each other, picking each other up when we’re down, and just pushing each other.”
There’s no denying the difference in atmosphere between Huntington Beach and South Bend. With family in the Midwest, though, it was not a hard adjustment for Wester. At home she spends most of her time on the beach and in the sand, but at school Wester settles with the few rays she catches in the outfield.
“There’s no beach here,” Wester says. “But when I’m at home, I’m such a beach rat. I’m always by the water and on the sand. I just like to be in the sun. It actually feels really nice (today) out there in left field.”
A piece of home will be joining Wester next year with the addition of her younger sister, Ali, who signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Notre Dame softball program for the 2016 season. A dynamic second baseman/outfielder with a powerful swing like her sister’s, Ali should have no trouble fitting in.
The Westers played two years of high school softball and travel softball together in California, and look forward to reuniting next year.
“I’m really excited,” Karley says. “We got really close when we started playing high school together, so the fact that we’ll be playing in college now is unreal. It’s awesome. Our family could not be happier.”
Unlike many sibling duos, however, the Wester sisters do not need to worry about sibling rivalries. Karley is keen on making sure her early success does not heighten expectations for Ali.
“I don’t think she’s looking to fill my shoes,” Karley says. “She’s just trying to be her own person, which is what our family always tells us. Just be your own person.”
The numerous chances to play softball in California were what propelled Karley’s involvement in the sport, and the opportunities followed shortly afterward.
“I just fell in love with the sport,” Wester says. “So I kept it rolling.”
This year Wester leads the Irish with a .431 batting average, 32 runs, 50 hits and 18 stolen bases in 18 attempts through 34 games. She also has a team-high 18 multiple-hit games, including four different three-hit outings.
Those accomplishments hardly seem to affect Wester. Her modesty is not only apparent on the field, but also in her everyday life.
Last year, in the middle of the season, Wester had a large portion of her hair cut and donated to The Bald and The Beautiful campaign, a fundraiser to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, South Bend’s Memorial Hospital and Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
Needless to say, some readjustments had to be made to her coveted bows.
“The bows were really, really long,” Wester says. “After I cut my hair, I had to wrap them around my ponytail a couple of times because I refused to wear other ones.”
With all the success Wester has seen already in her young career, it’s safe to say the bows aren’t going anywhere soon.