Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Fluid. Smooth. Natural.
Each of those adjectives could describe Avery Miller’s swing. It’s a thing of beauty to witness … especially when she makes contact with a pitch, which is more often than not.
With the bat in her hands, Unioto’s freshman five-hole hitter has quickly created terror in the hearts of opposing pitchers. In seven games this season, Miller is hitting .542.
But if you know how much time she’s put into becoming a feared hitter, you’re not surprised by the immediate hit parade she’s produced over the start of her high school career.
“When I go up the plate, I’m confident that I’ll be able to hit the ball solid every time. I play travel ball over the summer and hit in the cages with my dad on days that we don’t have practice,” Miller said. “That’s definitely made me an overall better player. I believe that I could improve at the plate by jumping on the first pitch because, usually, it’s a strike and it may be the best pitch I see during each at-bat.”
The fact that Miller already sees areas in her game in which she could improve upon speaks to her level of maturity. Tweak by tweak, she’s swiftly becoming known as one of the best players in the Scioto Valley Conference.
And, remember, she’s not even a year removed from her eighth grade softball season. Now, she’s clobbering pitches while facing elite-level hurlers such as Huntington’s Kylee Kellough, Fairfield Union’s Laikyn Teasley and Logan’s Kaitlynne Peters.
“I feel like the transition to high school softball has been a smooth one because of my travel ball experiences and years of playing against great competition,” Miller said. “The biggest adjustment for me is that I’ve had to learn many different defensive positions this season. I do feel that will lead to me becoming a more well-rounded softball player.”
Her batting average comes alongside 13 RBIs and three home runs. While she doesn’t aim for the fence, she can’t help but smile when thinking about a ball sailing over it.
“Hitting a home run is one of the best feelings a softball player can get,” she said. “As soon as a I get up to the plate, my coaches, Matt [Book], Brett [Fisher], and Rob [Hull], always tell me to find my pitch, then to drive the ball. That’s what I’ve been able to do so far this year. My ultimate goal is always to hit hard line drives and sometimes that leads to me hitting it over the fence.”
Miller, however, isn’t the only Sherman who has home run power.
Up and down Unioto’s lineup, you’ll find longball threats. That, alongside the team’s sense of camaraderie, has fueled the team’s white-hot start — one that includes wins over Fairfield Union, Logan, Chillicothe, Washington, Huntington, Paint Valley and Hillsboro.
“I think our team is definitely off to a great start this year because of how much we all enjoy playing the sport of softball and love being a part of the team,” Miller said. “Out of all the sports teams that I have played on, I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever been to my teammates.”
Miller, who also plays soccer and basketball, says the softball program’s seniors — Jayla Campbell, Jocie Fisher and Tori Neff — have acted as the perfect role models.
Each of those three are teammates in which Miller has a sense of admiration for.
“Jayla, Jocie, and Tori are such great people to be around,” she said. “They inspire me to always give my best effort and to also be a great teammate. Each of them are excellent players and make me realize if I keep working hard, I’ll end up being as good as them in the future.”
With the likes of Campbell, Fisher, Neff and Miller, Unioto currently sits at 7-0 overall with a 2-0 mark in conference play.
That’s, however, just a good start. Miller and her teammates hope it leads to something great.
“Our team has very high expectations for this season. We have goals of becoming SVC champions with hopes of also winning a Gold Ball,” Miller said. “Once we accomplish those goals, we hope to make a long tournament run. I can’t wait for the competition.”