“Alia, while only a sophomore, has taken over the team's leadership role,” said EMU softball coach JD McCurdy.
This was not by accident. Alia Miller (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) prepared for this season with leadership and improvement in mind.
“I knew coming in this season that we were going to be really young,” Alia said, “so me and...Danielle (Brenneman), we really focused on having to be leaders this year, even though we were sophomores.”
She knew there was no reason her team’s age should hold them back.
“We really wanted to step up our game and just make it a good year, because even though we are young we know we have a lot of talent. So over the summer I worked extremely hard, pitching every day, hitting every day, getting as much work in as I could.”
And her hard work has paid off. Through 14 games, she is leading the team with a .400 batting average and is tied for second with nine RBIs.
In the field, Alia splits her time between pitching and first base. Last week she had a career high 11-strikeout performance against Mary Baldwin. She leads the team with 66 putouts and holds a .987 fielding percentage.
“Alia is off to a strong start with outstanding pitching and offensive numbers which is a huge part of our team’s success!” said Coach McCurdy said of his team’s 10-4 start.
Alia’s commitment to her team extends beyond the softball field.
“I like to try to be not only a leader but also a big sister,” she said. “Just tell them every day that...because I know how stressful it can be to be a student athlete, just that I’m open to help them with whatever they need.”
Coach McCurdy has noted her dedication to her teammates.
“She has been a mentor to our first year players and has an outstanding work ethic,” he said.
Alia first got into softball because her older sisters played it. Now one of her sisters, Angelia (aka Jelly), coaches softball at EMU as a graduate assistant.
“My sister is my best friend in the whole world so having her as my coach is really huge for me,” said Alia.
Jelly said that coaching her sister is a continuation of a lifelong mentorship.
“Being her coach in college is surreal because I get to watch her perform at her full potential that I knew she had,” Jelly explained. “It has made us closer/best friends, and who wouldn’t want to coach their sibling?”
Alia has gained confidence this season through conversations with her coaches.
“And just seeing the fact that putting last year behind me,” she said, “because it was not the year that I wanted, and coming in knowing how good of a player I could be and just having that mentality.”
She hopes this season her team will be able to gain focus and confidence.
“I think a lot of the younger girls just need to know that they’re good players, because everyone else sees it,” she said.
Alia is excited for her team to continue to grow together and make it far in the ODAC Tournament.
“I think we have a lot of potential to be able to make a statement in the tournament.”
-- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern