Karsen Ochs has a ring, and she’d love to have another one. South Carolina softball’s senior pitcher was recently engaged to be married and will tie the knot with Zach Hanna in August. Ochs had a goal of getting her wedding plans finished before the start of the 2023 softball season so that she and the Gamecocks can focus on chasing a championship ring, among other goals.
“Every little girl has that dream of diamonds, and luckily for me, I’m in the season of the softball diamond and a diamond on my finger,” said Ochs. “I’ll get to experience that with my teammates and have them be alongside me.”
For Ochs, her confidence in the pitching circle carries over to life off the field.
“I’m a full-time student, I’m a full-time athlete, and I’m a full-time wedding planner now!” Ochs said. “Just like being a student-athlete, planning a wedding is something people don’t really understand until you’re in the thick of it. There’s an appreciation by me now for that next season of life.
“As soon as we got engaged (in October), we were in discussions about timelines. I had said that once we hit the (softball) season, I’m pretty much unavailable. Everyone’s advice to me was to hire a wedding planner, but I did not. It was my goal to have all the big-ticket wedding items planned before the season started. I has already booked the venue, the photographer, florist, the music, I’ve got my wedding dress, we’re about ninety percent done with the catering, and I already spoke with our cake baker.”
Not bad for a 21-year-old who is already juggling the demands of classes, practices, games, and everything else that is involved with being a student-athlete. She noted that the most stressful part of this process was the wedding guest list and the budget.
“I’m a very organized person, as is my mother and my future mother-in-law,” Ochs said. “Zach and I had a pretty clear vision. It has been a learning experience.”
It has been a whirlwind year as the couple met through a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event just last February.
“Zach is a musician and does a lot of worship stuff, and I’m also involved in worship as well,” Ochs said. “I sing, and he plays all kinds of instruments. He was playing piano one night at an event, and I was asked to sing, and we met. I didn’t think anything of it at first because we were in-season, and that wasn’t even a thought in my mind, but apparently it was in his!”
“The biggest thing you’re going to remember is how people treated you. That’s something I’ve really wanted to focus on.”
With wedding plans settled, Ochs is now fully engaged… with softball goals.
“It’s an unspoken goal among the team that we want to make it back into the (NCAA) tournament,” Ochs said. “It would be a Cinderella story if we could live out our dreams that way. Every single college softball player wants that.
“Coach Bev (Smith) asked us at the beginning of the year to think of one word that we would want if it were to be put on a shirt to wear for a whole year, and that word for me was ‘teammate.’ It’s a cliché, but the biggest thing you’re going to remember is how people treated you. That’s something I’ve really wanted to focus on. I want to be that person that my teammates can turn to whenever they need something or even when they just want to hang out and have fun. That can be shown on the field and off the field.”
Originally from Macon, Georgia, Ochs said they both wanted to have their wedding in Columbia.
“Columbia has become home for me,” Ochs said. “I didn’t just choose this school for softball. I chose it because I loved the city, and I loved the school. Zach is also from here.”
Although a senior, Ochs still has another year of eligibility and plans to come back next year. She will graduate in May with a degree in public relations and will then pursue a master’s degree in mental performance and coaching education.
“I’m going to let the Lord open up whichever doors He wants to open up to me,” Ochs said. “Zach has a passion for pursuing music as a career, and I’m fully aligned in that passion for him. One day, I could see us in ministry together in some capacity. As far as using my degrees, I have a passion for working in mental performance and working with student-athletes. I could also see myself working in public relations for a non-profit or with the church.”
As you might expect, many of Ochs’ current and former teammates will be part of the wedding, so it’s a good thing she scheduled it well after the end of NCAA softball postseason. Still, some of her fellow Gamecocks won’t let her focus solely on softball.
“Some of my teammates in the bullpen call me ‘fiancé’ now,” Ochs said with a grin.