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K-W’s Miller must not be perfect to be major contributor

Charlotte Miller is a self-admitted perfectionist.

“Yes, I am actually,” Miller said with a smile.

And near perfection is what Miller has been flirting with this season. A junior on the Kenmore West softball team, she’s hit the midway point of the season as the owner of a spotless 5-0 record and 1.17 ERA.

Coming off of a strong sophomore campaign where she established herself as one of the most promising pitchers in the Niagara Frontier League, Miller worked hard in the offseason with Blue Devils’ pitching coach Joe Catalano to refine her game.

“Over the winter, I pitched almost everyday and he helped boost my confidence. I just feel so much more comfortable,” said Miller, who is averaging nine strike outs per game.

“And plus, we’re like a family,” she added. “They have my back. I just feel so much better (in the circle) this year.”

But the greatest lesson Miller took away from the offseason workouts was the knowledge that not every single pitch has to be perfect for it to be effective.

“Coach Cat yells at me all the time because I’m like a perfectionist. Every pitch has to be perfect,” Miller joked. “And he always gets mad at me and says ‘you can’t be perfect. Nobody is perfect.’ So I’ve come to live with that. It helps me a lot actually.”

Miller is actually facing the challenge that many perfectionist like her face. She must also guard against putting undo pressure on her shoulders.

Blue Devils’ coach Matt Chimera said Miller’s growth, in all facets, has been amazing.

“She’s definitely come a long way in a lot of respects,” Chimera said. “First of all, her control is a hundred times better than it was a couple years ago. She’s more focused (in the circle), I think.”

Miller’s increased effectiveness in the circle is also connected to her having a better understanding of her role on the team.

Last season, the Blue Devils began the practice of rotating Miller and Shelby Donhauser at starting pitcher.

While both pitched well and helped Ken-West to an 8-6 mark in the NFL, Miller admitted that at times she didn’t always understand the coaches thought process when it came to picking a starter.

Miller questioned herself from within. Whenever she didn’t start, Miller wondered if somehow she wasn’t good enough the time before and thought her coaches felt the same way.

“When I was younger and I pitched for West I would get so tense and I would feel like my teammates hated me because I put someone on base,” Miller admitted. “But now that I know that my teammates have my back, I just feel more relaxed.”

Now in year two of the rotating pitching formula, Miller said she knows without question that the coaches have complete faith in both her and Donhauser. Even when Miller doesn’t start, she knows it’s not a negative reflection on her ability.

“Shelby and I work really good together at pitching. We both hit our spots,” she said. “I just feel that Coach Chimera is very fair. He’s very good at (picking) who’s on and off games. We’re both comfortable and just hope to get the games that we want.”

In fact, if anything, the West coaching staff becomes more and more impressed by Miller everyday.

Miller has not only developed into an excellent fielding first baseman, she also has quite the mix of power and contact at the plate. Batting over .500, Miller was hitting at a sizzling .714 clip through the first five games of the season.

“I’m just relaxed,” Miller said. “I’m just playing the game that I love.”

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