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Louisville’s Korbe Otis eyeing career as surgeon after softball
Korbe Otis plans to become a surgeon following her softball career at Louisville. (Credit: Louisville Athletic Department)

Louisville’s Korbe Otis eyeing career as surgeon after softball

LOUISVILLE, K.Y. (BVM) – Korbe Otis is a competitive person. That competitiveness has landed her a starting spot in the outfield for the Louisville softball team and last year, it helped her get named to the ACC All-Freshman team. It’s a competitiveness she knows she’ll still have long after her playing career is over and that played a factor in her decision on what her career would be after softball. Otis plans to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. 

“I think that’s a really good field for me especially because surgery is really competitive,” Otis said. “I’m very competitive and I think after sports I will have a hard time finding something to be competitive about.”

Louisville Cardinals softball Korbe Otis cardiothoracic surgeon
Korbe Otis started every game for Louisville as a freshman last season. (Credit: Louisville Athletic Department)

Medical school and a career as a surgeon could be the lightning rod for all that competitiveness. However, it being a conduit for her competitive side is simply a bonus because Otis developed a deep passion for the science of the human body during high school. 

After committing to Louisville as an eighth grader, she knew she would go to college but wasn’t sure what she would study. Eventually, her journey to find that answer led her to a future life in medicine. 

“I thought maybe I wanted to be an engineer or a lawyer and that didn’t end up working,” Otis said. “I just didn’t have the mind to be an engineer. I didn’t think that way. I kind of fell in love with the body and anatomy and physiology in high school.” 

It also helped that her mother works for a tissue processing company so Otis was introduced to the medical industry at a young age. 

“I‘ve always been around medical speak at dinner with my mom,” Otis said. “I mean I’ve been going to her office and seeing cartilage and tissue and bone and all of that for as long as I can remember.”

Otis found her own love of anatomy and physiology but having a familiarity with all of it through her mom certainly pointed her in the right direction. When Otis enrolled at Louisville, she decided to major in biology with the goal of getting into medical school and getting into a surgery fellowship after her undergrad. 

It’s a demanding undergraduate experience, splitting time between being a high-level Division I athlete and preparing for med school. Otis has already started studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) that she’ll take next year but the Cardinals outfielder is up for the challenge.  

“It’s always been an expectation in my family that the smartest kid wins,” Otis said. “Going into my studies it’s an expectation that I’m studying more than other people, putting more effort into it than other people. That’s the expectation for me, it always has been.”  

Louisville Cardinals softball Korbe Otis cardiothoracic surgeon
Korbe Otis leads the Cardinals with a .408 batting average this season. (Credit: Louisville Athletic Department)

The extra workload in the classroom hasn’t affected her production on the diamond. As a freshman, she was a starter for Louisville and was the only freshman to start every game for the Cardinals. She was a talented defender and on offense, had a .289 batting average with 30 RBIs and an .809 OPS. 

This season, she has improved in every facet of her game and her production has increased at an impressive rate. Otis has a .408 batting average, a 1.207 OPS and 39 RBIs to go along with 19 stolen bases. Otis credits having a year under her belt for the improvement in her game. 

“It’s just the experience, getting to see more and more teams and playing really good competition,” Otis said. “I would also say I really did take time over the summer to reconfigure my swing and be able to hit more pitches hard so there was definitely a work aspect to it as well but there is a part of it that you can’t get anywhere else and that’s just that experience of seeing arms and playing really good teams.” 

Otis’ approach to the game also helps her make incremental improvements, just like with her schoolwork. Otis is very analytical and studious about the game. She studies game film and  how teammates like All-American Camryn Greenwood approach hitting. 

When working with the Louisville hitting coach, Bryce Neal, she wants to know why they are doing what they are doing and understand the thought process behind it. Neal also promotes natural movement of the body to optimize hitting, knowing what muscle groups to use and how they function. It’s a convenient approach for someone who loves physiology like Otis does. 

All of it – her competitiveness, her studiousness and her willingness to work – has brought Otis success so far in her collegiate career. In turn, she is helping Louisville succeed in the ACC. The Cardinals are at the top of the conference right behind Florida State and have greatly improved upon the team’s 27-25 record last season. It’s why she came to Louisville in the first place.  

“I wanted to come in and I wanted to change a program and be able to change the culture, turn something around and be able to make an impact day one,” Otis said.

Otis is accomplishing that goal and one day, she could be making an impact in the operating room rather than on the softball diamond. 

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