Senior outfielder Page Nellis runs the bases during a game against Agnes Scott College (Ga.) on Feb. 25, 2023. (Natalie Sandlow/Visual Editor)

Emory University senior outfielder Page Nellis has been playing softball since she was 6 years old. Like many kids, she started out playing for the local recreational center’s team and joined a travel team when she got older. She said the team-centered aspect of the sport pushed her to keep coming back.

“I really love the people that I played with,” Nellis said. “As I got older, my love for the sport definitely continued to grow.”

High school was a defining part of Nellis’ softball career. Her team had games every weekend, including out-of-state tournaments where she would play up to four or five games a day. She also made a positional change, switching from pitcher to outfield — which remains her position today — to enhance her strengths on defense and as a hitter.

“I spent so much time on it so that was a little bit emotional to not do it anymore after putting all that work in and not necessarily seeing it pay off, but I’m definitely much happier now because of it,” Nellis said.

Nellis injured her knee at practice her junior year of high school, taking her out of the game for three months — a moment that would prove pivotal in her softball career.

Originally committed to Queens University of Charlotte (N.C.) in her junior year, Nellis thought she had already finished the application and recruitment process before getting injured. However, while her knee was healing, Nellis shifted more of her focus toward academics and decided to decommit in the fall of her senior year after having second thoughts.

“I realized I really wanted to go to a college that would support me academically as much as athletically,” Nellis said.

After restarting her recruitment process, Nellis arrived at Emory’s campus for a visit. She said the team environment drew her to the school.

“What really sold me was I got to talk with some of the girls on the team,” Nellis said. “I could just tell how much they genuinely love playing softball there and love each other and love the game, and it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of.”

Nellis’ Emory softball career has seen its challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, a sparse roster and a coaching change. Despite the obstacles, Nellis said she and her teammates never lost sight of keeping their team together.

“Me and my teammates definitely focused on keeping the same culture that we loved about Emory softball even if we didn’t know who the next coach was and making a really strong bond between us and our teammates, especially our new freshmen, so that we could hit the ground running once we got a new coach,” Nellis said.  

Head Coach India Chiles joined the team this academic year and said that Nellis was one of the first players to introduce herself when she paid an enthusiastic visit to her office.

“She was grinning from ear-to-ear,” Chiles said. “That was very calming and exciting for me because she’s a senior. She didn’t have to buy in. But day one, she was like a happy little kid ready to give it a fresh new start and see what would come.”

Nellis has played in all 32 games this season and is leading the team in on-base percentage with a mark of 0.558. Nellis has earned a spot among the top 10 players in 12 of the University Athletic Association’s (UAA) 19 statistics categories, including a N0. 2 ranking in runs scored with 37. She currently holds the No. 1 spot for triples and on-base percentage.

When describing her as a softball player, Chiles said Nellis is “one to be feared.”

“As an opposing coach trying to figure out a scouting report against her, you look at her numbers, she doesn’t strike out hardly ever,” Chiles said. “She can play the speed game and drop a bunt or she can go for power.”

Nellis has also set the Emory program record for getting hit by the most pitches in a season at 17, adding to her career record total of 45. She is also ranked No. 1 in the UAA for getting hit by the most pitches so far this season, with the No. 2 player only getting hit by five so far. Although Nellis said it was hard to learn not to react to stray pitches, she said she overcame the instinct to jump out of the way by “wanting to be on base more.”

“Once I got to college, I knew that every game is important and so I need to get on base any way I can,” Nellis said.

In addition to her high level of play, the team selected Nellis as a captain this year. Sophomore pitcher Isabel Cohen said the decision was unanimous.

“Page as a teammate is just very selfless, easily one of the hardest working people I know and me, as well as a lot of the other girls on the team, find her pretty inspiring,” Cohen said. “She definitely pushes us to work hard and to really be our best and also to approach every day with a positive attitude.”

Nellis’ leadership is also a crucial aspect to the team. Chiles said that even though Nellis lives off campus, she’ll often find her studying with younger players in the locker room in the evening. Cohen described her as an “empathetic” leader.

“She definitely understands every teammate on an emotional level,” Cohen said. “She really does a good job of communicating with people and taking the time to understand what you need as a teammate, which I feel like is why she’s such a good leader.”

When Nellis graduates in May to become a software engineer, Chiles said the team will have a difficult time filling the void she will leave behind.

“She is that ultimate teammate that we will very desperately be trying to fill that spot next year,” Chiles said. “I don’t think we’ll be successful because she’s irreplaceable, but she is going to be a great manager, a great leader. … That kid can do anything she wants to.”

+ posts

Sasha Melamud (she/her, 27C) is from Clearwater, Florida, planning on majoring in creative writing and spanish. In her free time, Melamud enjoys being out in the fresh air, fitness, and hanging out with friends.