Softball: Miller molds herself into different role with Ramblers
Loyola's Hannah Miller (right) makes a catch as teammate Rachel Lang (left) ducks out of the way during their sectional playoff game against New Trier. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:32AM
If Hannah Miller could change history, Loyola Academy would make opening pitch “Miller Time.”
But because she’s battled shoulder tendinitis in her first two seasons with the Loyola girls softball team, Hannah has been unable to follow in the cleats of her older sister, Devin, who was named an all-state pitcher before graduating in 2009.
For a brief moment this season, Hannah saw hope. Before the start of her junior year, her pain disappeared.
But she pitched only in two games before hurting her shoulder diving back to third base midway through the season. The injury forced her from Loyola’s lineup for a week, and kept her from her customary spot in left field for three weeks.
“My coach was like, ‘Don’t worry about throwing again,’ ” she said.
While Miller began this season with visions of pitching, she already had an established role for the Ramblers (27-8).
Miller is a quick, hard-working slap hitter who bats first in Loyola’s lineup, setting the table for the middle of the order. She also covers ground in left field.
Still, Miller carries the fire to step into the circle. She wants to be like her older sister, who helped capture Loyola’s lone softball state championship in 2009 and landed a scholarship to UIC.
“She’s the reason I pitch,” Hannah Miller said. “I always watched her growing up. Just always seeing her play, I always strived to be like her, to be as good. Obviously it’s hard.”
Meanwhile, Jamie Kiefer established herself as a pitcher who, in Loyola coach Marty Jennings’ eyes, has the potential to experience Devin Miller-like success. Kiefer, a sophomore, went 18-4 this season, striking out 281 batters in 167 2/3 innings.
While Hannah and Devin Miller assumed different roles on Loyola’s softball team, Jennings sees many likenesses between the two.
“I think their desire to be successful is very similar,” Jennings said. “I think they want to work extremely hard to be great softball players. The biggest thing, I think for us, is that (Hannah) is just a kid who works. Devin was a dominant force. She was a big personality, where Hannah’s more low key when it comes to softball. She likes to stay within herself and be a part of it and that’s what I love and I appreciate.
“They’re different in so many ways, but they’re similar because they really, really want to win. They want to get after it.”
Loyola’s season ended in a 5-1 loss to New Trier on May 30, but Miller and most of the returning Ramblers won’t stop playing for some time.
Miller has jumped right into a traveling club, practicing with the Illinois Chill after Loyola’s season ended and will play in her first tournament this weekend.
The transition into summer softball, among other things, offers the opportunity to continue improving in the role she’s found with the Ramblers.
“I want to become strong with my slapping and hitting regular, base running and outfield, too,” Miller said.