As the Pleasant Valley softball team celebrated its second consecutive Class 5A state championship on a Friday night in July, a member of Iowa State’s coaching staff waited outside the diamond at the Rogers Sports Complex.
The Cyclones were there to see and meet PV all-state second baseman Carli Spelhaug.
“They told me how much they wanted me and how impressed they were with me and our team,” Spelhaug said. “They were later in the (recruiting) game, but they definitely made a statement waiting out the celebration and telling me how much they wanted me.”
Less than three months after that joyous night for PV, Spelhaug has decided she’ll continue her softball career with the Cyclones. Spelhaug gave Iowa State a verbal commitment this week, choosing the Cyclones over scholarship offers from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Drake.
Spelhaug can sign a national letter of intent during the early signing period on Nov. 14 and will join the Cyclones in the fall of 2019.
The three-sport standout took her official visit to Iowa State last month, the weekend of the Cyclones' football game against Oklahoma.
“I just had that feeling after I left campus,” she said. “I knew right after that. They had great coaches, great facilities and great academics. It just felt right.”
Iowa State was 23-33 in coach Jamie Pinkerton’s first season last spring. In particular, Spelhaug was drawn to competing in the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas were top-30 programs last season.
“To be able to compete at the highest level as I could, against teams like Oklahoma and Texas, is something I’m really excited about,” Spelhaug said. “Hopefully, I can help them.”
Spelhaug has been a four-year starter and a spark plug at the top of the order for the Spartans.
A two-time captain of the 5A all-tournament team at state and reigning Mississippi Athletic Conference player of the year, Spelhaug batted .479 with 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 44 RBIs along with 22 stolen bases.
She earned first team all-state honors by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association and was co-captain of the Quad-City Times All-Metro team.
The Cyclones offered Spelhaug on her official visit. The coaches plan to keep her at second base, she said.
“If I work hard, they’ve told me the opportunity is there to get some playing time my freshman year,” Spelhaug said. “That was super appealing. It has been my position for four years.
“I’m open to playing other positions, but it is where I feel the most comfortable. It is going to make me work super hard.”
Spelhaug, who intends to study engineering, said her family has been mostly Iowa Hawkeye fans.
Her older brother, Ryan, plays football at Division II Northwest Missouri State. Sister Ellie is in her freshman year playing basketball at Bradley.
Even so, Spelhaug already has plenty of Iowa State apparel in her closet.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” she said. “I had the chance to build some great relationships with many coaches and players, but this feels right.
“The Cyclones took my heart.”