The left-hander was to be the starting pitcher for Dobyns-Bennett this season, one that held great expectations for her and her teammates. The Lady Indians were just two games into their season, however, when it came to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miller saw on Facebook where someone had hung their jersey in the window as a way to show their sadness about the season being suspended. She mirrored those feelings after having played softball since she was 4 years old and pitched since the seventh grade.
However, she doesn’t want the jersey to be just about her. She wants it to be an inspiration to her Dobyns-Bennett teammates and to those from Science Hill, Daniel Boone, Volunteer and all area teams.
“I thought that was a good idea not just to honor me and my team, but all the other seniors,” Miller said. “I hate it for all the players who aren’t getting to spend this time on the field. Even if we’re rivals, we’re like one big family that has been brought together through softball. It’s a tribute to everyone.”
Softball differs from many sports in that Miller plays on a travel team featuring multiple players from David Crockett and other area schools. Besides pitching at home and with her high school team, she’s also made weekly trips to Erwin to improve her craft.
“I’ve been working with Gary Lovette, who is probably the best pitching coach in this area,” she said. “The 45-minute drive is definitely worth it to get better. I wouldn’t be where I’m at if not for working with him.”
Despite the disappointment of this season, Miller is excited for the next chapter of her career. She’s going to play at NCAA Division II Lincoln Memorial.
The promise of being part of the Lady Railsplitters program can’t mask the sadness she feels for missing out on her senior season.
“It’s unbelievably disappointing. You build up your whole career for your final season,” she said. “You’re ready for that responsibility and that leadership and it gets taken away for nothing we did.”
It’s not just softball that Miller and her teammates are missing. It’s the camaraderie with friends, whether they’re athletes or not. There are also the traditions of one’s senior year that could be in jeopardy.
“It’s really hard not seeing your friends every day,” she said. “Especially this semester, it’s something that everyone looks forward to with prom, graduation, trips and all that. Hopefully, they will still have some of that, but it’s tough when that is taken away. Those are staples of your senior year to have those experiences.”
Through the tough times, the Lady Indians are staying in close communication. While they remain hopeful this season will be finished in some capacity, they long for the times together.
“I talk to my teammates every single day and we all miss it,” Miller said. “We miss all of it, being in school, playing softball, our friendship, and just spending time together.”