Senior Riley Miller steps up to the plate. The score is tied and there are two outs. The team is counting on her.
Can she do it?
For Riley Miller softball is more than a sport, it’s a passion.
“She took a liking to it [baseball]. We always played catch, and I played baseball when I was growing up… she excelled every moment,”father Kirk Miller said.” “She was doing it from five years old.”
Riley has transitioned from backyard baseball to a successful athletic career in softball.
“She knew there was a time where she would transition to softball, when she was 12 or 13 years old,” Kirk Miller said.
Riley Miller currently plays Seaholm Softball and plays competitively on the travel team Ice Fast Pitch.
“Riley is one of the players that I call a ‘first-dayer,’ she made the varsity team as a Freshman and started the first game she and started every game since,” Seaholm Softball Coach, Bill Schuerman said. “So, from the beginning she was a good player and had a lot of obvious potential.”
Riley Miller developed most her game from her father. Kirk Miller wanted to relay the same interest he had for the sport, as his father did to him.
“My dad’s always there to help, and I really learned everything about the game as far as my swing from my dad,” Riley Miller said. “I’ve never really had coaches help me outside of him.”
Their joint interests in the sport had helped Riley progress in softball immensely. and maintain a closer relationship with her father.
“We’ve been very solid and very tight, everything that my father taught me I’ve taught her. My dad was a very good baseball player a long time ago, when he played in high school, he taught me everything that I’ve relayed onto Riley,” Kirk Miller said. “We do things the same way, you know she picked up batting left handed from me and she can actually throw the ball harder than I can.”
Initially, after practicing baseball Riley Miller altogether was unsure over her transition to softball.
“When I got to middle school, I had switched to softball the year before, and I was like, ‘I guess I’ll give softball a chance and see what happens’,” Riley Miller said.
Riley Miller soon realized the importance softball held over her and the impact it had on her.
“I had to give up tennis for softball, and that definitely changed the way I viewed softball and put more effort into it, that’s when it became my entire life,” Riley Miller said.
Riley Miller soon developed a close connection and interest to the sport, leading her into pursuing her passion for softball in college. She had received three college recruitment offers for softball. While she initially believed attending out of state was the best option for her, she decided on attending the University of Michigan Dearborn, where she received a scholarship academically and athletically.
U of M Dearborn recently combined athletic programs, and is a division two school, that partakes in the NAIA league. Through her experiences in travel softball she was already affiliated with the program’s new coach, Scott Combes.
“I liked him [Scott Combes], and it was a very familiar atmosphere, because I did know him through travel so I decided to turn down some of those out of state options and stay in state,” Riley Miller said.“It was good academic and it was a good athletics program, because it’s now combined.”
Riley Miller looks forward to playing at the next level. She plans on closing on a successful senior year and in the future aspires to coach.
Miller’s teammates are proud of her accomplishments and think softball will positively affect her in college.
“Riley has a lot of energy that always picks people up, and even when she’s having a bad day, she tries to help the team and make everyone love the game,” Junior Christina Dennis said.
Additionally Miller’s teammates believe it’s important to note Millers hard work and commend her as a role model to be looked up to.
“Riley is the kind of girl whom others look up to and aspire to be,” senior Maddy Cormier said.
Softball has also provided Miller with a solution to overcoming adversity.
Its [softball] taught me not just about softball but about life, you’re going go through a lot of things that you don’t have control over, and you’re going have to learn how to grow through those things. Its definitely changed the way I view softball and the way I view the opportunity to play at such a high level,” Riley Miller said. “I’ve been through a lot of adversity, in many ways and it helped me clarify why softball is such a big part of my life.”