The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Jeremy Burnham
Reporter 

Ritzville's Lacey Miller to begin collegiate softball career

 

September 12, 2019

Contributed photo

Lacey Miller signs her letter of intent to play softball at Knox College as her parents watch on.

Lacey Miller fell in love with softball in third grade. She played throughout her schooling in the Lind-Ritzville Schools co-op. Now, she's ready to take it to the next level after earning a softball scholarship at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

Playing at the next level means a lot to Miller.

"That's huge to me." Miller said. "I think in my sophomore year I had an idea that I might be able to go to the next level. Then, my coaches were really encouraging me, and I just thought, 'Wow, how cool would that be?'"

Lind-Ritzville/Sprague softball head coach Todd O'Brien, who coached Miller for all four years of high school, said he knew early that Miller was a special player.

"When she came to us as a freshman, we knew she had some skills as a softball player," O'Brien said. "She came in wanting to be a catcher. Immediately I enjoyed her attitude and her willingness to work ... A lot of people don't want to play catcher because they get beat up. But she came in and she wanted to do it."

Miller's enthusiasm grew from there.

"It was 16-year-old me thinking that I could play in college," Miller said. "That I could be collegiate athlete. I was obsessed. I started watching college softball all day everyday."

O'Brien says Miller is the first collegiate softball player to come out of LRHS in the six years he has coached here.

Miller was born and raised in Ritzville. Sports have been a part of her life since she can remember. At LRHS, she played softball, volleyball and basketball.

She was an all-conference player in softball in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She was also the conference MVP in her senior season.

Also during her senior year, Miller was an all-conference player in volleyball. While she enjoyed basketball as well, Miller said softball and volleyball were her favorites. She says her experiences with those two sports have affected her life beyond the field of play.

"Those two have my heart," Miller said. "They got me through high school. A lot of it I owe to my coaches. Like Todd O'Brien and Cari Galbreath. They have both been such inspirations to me in my life. They have both taught me so many things, in the sport and in life."

O'Brien appreciates what Miller brought to the catcher position.

"By the time her senior year rolled around, she handled pitchers really well," O'Brian said. "She can frame pitches really well, she knows how to work and be gentle with the umpires and she also blocks the ball really well."

O'Brien says she is even better on offense.

"Where she really shines is hitting the ball," O'Brien said. "She combines contact with power ... She's extremely good at contact. Her junior year, she did not strike out. Over an entire season, and rolling into her senior year, she went well over 100 at-bats either making contact or walking in every at-bat."

Sports have been an important part of Miller's life for a long time, though she knows the time will come when she will stop playing softball.

"My senior year, I did come to terms with the possibility of not being able to play," Miller said. "I do know that sports will only take me so far in life. And as many lessons as it has taught me and will continue to teach me, I will have to do something else. And that is tough for me. Softball has always kind of guided me. I feel at home there on the field, and it helps me feel like that in other places as well."

Miller was prepared to head to a college to focus more on her education than on softball. She was all set to head to Central Washington University, where she would have had to try to make the softball team as a walk-on. However, when she received a scholarship offer from Knox College, she knew she had to take it, even if did mean moving to Illinois.

Though Miller has been in Ritzville her whole life, she says she's looking forward to learning about herself in a new town.

"As much as I love my town, if I went to Central I would have found myself coming home too often," Miller said. "As much as I would have wanted to embrace college life, I would be so drawn to here and to my family that I don't think I would have gone out enough to find out who I am."

Miller hopes to find out a lot about herself in the coming years. Because she completed two years of Running Start at Eastern Washington University, she has completed many of her lower level requirements. This means she could start on her major if she wanted to. However, because she has four years of eligibility to play softball, she plans on staying in school for all four years. And because she has completed a lot of her requirements, she gets to use credits taking classes in different areas to see what interests her.

"I'm thinking of majoring in athletic training or sports administration," Miller said. "But I'm not sure. I might get there and fall in love with something in science. Those credits I have from Running Start are allowing me to explore."

Disclosure: Lacey Miller is a former employee of The Ritzville Journal.

 

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