PDT Sports Writer
A softball team’s success can hinge on the effectiveness of its pitcher.
With back-to-back regional appearances as an example of what good pitching does, Notre Dame has relied heavily on Miranda Pauley to get the Titans into uncharted territories. With her senior season upcoming, she had to make a choice on where she would go to school and showcase her talents.
In the end, she felt most at home with the school closest to home as Pauley will continue her softball career at Shawnee State over schools such as NCAA Division II Concord University and Division III Muskingum University. She will pursue a degree in early childhood education all while pitching and playing third base in the sport she loves.
“I know some of the girls on the team (at Shawnee State) and they’re just a great team,” Pauley said.
Last season, Pauley was 11-4 with a 2.43 ERA and earned a save. In 96 1/3 innings, she struck out 115 batters while walking 19 and hitting seven.
For his lone season as the coach of the softball team, current Notre Dame girls basketball coach J.D. McKenzie was impressed with how Pauley played throughout the season. Most notably, her work ethic towards her craft is what sticks out the most in his mind.
“She spends a tremendous amount of time during the season, (in the) off-season, with (her stepfather) Joe (Kayser), throwing a lot,” McKenzie said. “That’s probably the biggest attribute she has is her dedication to what she’s doing and to keep getting better.”
Pauley started playing travel softball when she was 9-years-old. Before then, she wasn’t as fond of the sport. But once she started traveling, it grew on her.
The love of the game grew so strong that she decided to focus solely on softball after her sophomore year. Every time she steps on the rubber, she understands the risk of one ball coming back and putting her out of commission.
“It’s nerve-wracking but for me, I don’t really think about it because it’s just natural,” Pauley said. “Whenever you get into those high-pressure situations, you really don’t think about that kind of stuff.”
Recently, the Titans have been in their fair share of high-pressure situations. They won a Division IV Southeast District Championship the previous two seasons and as well as the first SOC I title in school history in 2011. The only roadblock that has been in Notre Dame’s way during that time period has been Strasburg-Franklin.
With these examples brought up, Pauley has been told by her future coaches that keeping a focused mentally is one of the biggest things she will need to work on when it comes to the transition from high school to college.
“Get your head straight and have a good attitude and the rest will follow if you work hard,” Pauley said.
Before taking over last year, McKenzie said his only interaction with Pauley came in the classroom. Even then, he had nothing but positive remarks for her.
“She’s a very good student and has worked hard,” McKenzie said. “And a lot of the kids here are so you get that work ethic factor that I knew was there.”
Pauley felt an aspect of her game that she likes is hitting. Last year, she carried a .311 batting average with two home runs, four doubles and 13 runs batted in.
One of the biggest influences on Pauley’s career has been Kayser. She said he’s been the one person that has been there from the beginning.
“When I was nine, he went to all of my travel games,” Pauley said. “Every game that I’ve had, he’s been (there).”
Kayser will now be following two collegiate softball careers with great interest. Jordan Jenkins, Pauley’s stepsister and Kayser’s daughter, is a Clay graduate and a current member of the Rio Grande softball team.
“We’ve been rivals and it’s so hard for him,” Pauley said. “He just has to stand out in center field and cheer for both of us.”
According to Pauley, she and Rio Grande did not have as much communication. The thought of playing with Jenkins was interesting for Pauley but the two will continue to be on opposite ends of the chalk beyond high school.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.