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Dan-ecdotes: Queen of K's

With her intense stare, mouthguard that imitates fangs and hard-throwing style, pitcher Kathryn Miska has struck fear into the minds of opposing pitchers this season...

Pitcher Kathryn Miska, right, celebrates with Jessica Faacks following the Patriots' 13-0 victory over Pine River-Backus on Thursday, May 5. Miska struck out 13 batters and allowed no hits in five innings on the mound. Photo by Dan Determan
Pitcher Kathryn Miska, right, celebrates with Jessica Faacks following the Patriots' 13-0 victory over Pine River-Backus on Thursday, May 5. Miska struck out 13 batters and allowed no hits in five innings on the mound. Photo by Dan Determan

With her intense stare, mouthguard that imitates fangs and hard-throwing style, pitcher Kathryn Miska has struck fear into the minds of opposing pitchers this season

The Pequot Lakes softball team has jumped out to a 12-1 start, thanks in part to the efforts of Miska on the mound. The senior hurler, daughter of John and Sara Miska, has pitched in every game for the Patriots, amassing an ERA of 1.15 and striking out 149 batters.

"In fastpitch, pitching is actually the name of the game," Patriots coach Bret Sergent said. "If you have a strong pitcher, it cleans up a lot of the little things. When you need an out, especially with her focus and her drive, there is a very good chance she'll get that out for you. With her, we are in every game."

Miska dedicates her athletic career softball, saying she enjoys the team aspect of the sport coupled with its competitive nature. Though she also plays first base, she looks forward to her time on the mound.

"I just think it's fun," Miska said. "It's something I can do easily. It works for me, and that makes me feel good. Not a lot of people can pitch."

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She is averaging more than 11 strikeouts a game while throwing the ball roughly 63 mph, which is the baseball equivalent of an 89 mph fastball. She has also embraced her role as a team leader and mentor to younger players.

Her secret to pitching is really no secret at all: strength training and lots of practice. She lifts weights three days a week and runs on her off days.

"You really have to work on your legs and your core," she said. "If you don't have strong legs, you won't be able to push off the mound and drive as hard."

Her strength was on display in the team's Thursday, May 5, victory over Pine River-Backus, where she struck 13 of 15 batters and never allowed a runner on base.

The next day, she threw a no-hitter against Pillager, striking out 11 in the process.

Despite her hard work, she credits her coaches and teammates with her success.

"They are amazing," Miska said. "They are some of the best people I have ever played with, both as athletes and people in general. When one person gets down, everyone else picks them up and makes sure they don't feel bad about a play they missed or something like that."

It is for them that she has her sights set on the state tournament, but her goal is not simply to get there.

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"I want to go to state and win," she said. "That is our goal as a team. We have been to state before, but to win a championship is what I want for our team."

"She wants it for (her teammates) as much as she wants it for herself," Sergent said. "She has turned a corner as far as becoming a leader. I'm just glad we have her."

After the season ends, Miska will take her abilities to St. Cloud State University to pitch for the Huskies. Though her coach feels she has small improvement to make at the next next level, he believes she will do what it takes to succeed.

"From the time she was a freshman until now, her maturity has gone up in leaps and bounds," Sergent said. "She knows her goal is in sight. Once she gets through this season and sets her sights on college, she will work hard to achieve her goals there. There is no doubt in my mind."

After college, she hopes to coach youth softball, passing her intensity onto the pitchers of the future.

"I know I wouldn't want to get in the box against her," Sergent said.

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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