By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Aaron “Carp” Carpenter, an Oxford resident, has been elected to the USA Softball of Michigan Hall of Fame.
“It’s a great honor,” said Carpenter, who grew up in Port Huron, a major softball hub in Michigan. He began his modified softball career in 1993, and played for several years with the Rockies in the Port Huron league. After a shoulder injury, he took a break for a few years before resuming in 2001.
For Carpenter, his career highlight was winning the national championships in 2005, 2008 and 2011 with the Secory Flyers. His teams have also won seven league championships, and numerous tournaments. He retired in 2015.
He is considered to be one of the best modified softball catchers in the state by USA Softball of Michigan, who described him as “big as a house and equally intimidating.”
Modified softball is a hybrid of slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball. In fast-pitch, the pitcher takes a step on the mound, swinging the ball all around in a windmill. Slow-pitch involves a simple underhand pitch. Modified is basically standing on the mound, bringing your arm straight back, and then slinging it straight in.
“I’m from Port Huron and back there, the modified softball was huge,” Carpenter said, recounting how he got into the sport. “We’d have leagues of 16 teams, and state tournaments.” Port Huron also hosted the nationals three times.
“We had tournaments back then where you’d play against teams from New York and they would actually fly in pitchers and pay them $3,000 just to pitch for the weekend. Back then, it was a big deal.”
When he wasn’t catching, Carpenter was also a dangerous hitter. “His presence at the plate as a batter was always impactful whether it was a single up the middle, or a towering home run, you knew Aaron would get the job done,” USA Softball of Michigan said in a statement. “He was one of the most feared hitters that pitchers would face. He hit more big home runs over the years than anyone.”
Besides his amateur softball career, Carpenter is deeply involved in Oxford sports as well. He has been the assistant varsity baseball coach since 2015 and is the current junior varsity football head coach at OHS. He served the Oxford Jr. Wildcats program for many years as a coach and football director.
Carpenter’s name will be inscribed on a plaque displayed in the USA Softball of Michigan Hall of Fame and Museum located in the program’s state office at 3316 Isabella Street in Midland.
The 2021 USA Softball of Michigan Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at The H Hotel in Midland Oct. 2 at 7p.m. Tickets will be available on Aug. 23 until sold out, or through Sept. 10, whichever comes first. The cost is $50 per ticket.