Maddie Milhorn wasn’t always sure she would become a dominant pitcher.
On her 8-and-under team, Milhorn remembers her future Skyview teammates Addison Harmier and Lainey Phillips being “so much better” at pitching. Her father suggested she try another position.
But that idea went out the window once she got a chance in the pitcher’s circle. In her first inning, Milhorn struck out the first three batters she faced.
She was hooked.
Now a freshman, Milhorn still gets a thrill when she strikes out the side.
That happened a lot this season. Milhorn struck out 217 batters in just over 116 innings.
She allowed just 13 walks and posted an earned-run average of 0.66 in leading Skyview to a 21-2 record and a second-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament last month.
Milhorn also had a .400 batting average with six home runs and 35 RBI.
For her accomplishments, Milhorn is the The Columbian’s All-Region Softball Player of the Year.
Not every freshman can step into softball’s most important position and be successful.
But at Skyview, Milhorn found a perfect Storm.
The team had strong senior leadership. Averie Sievers, Lauren Johnson, Kya Jenkins and Skylar Groesbeck made sure the Storm’s six varsity freshmen felt instantly welcome.
“From day one, they took us under their wing,” Milhorn said. “It wasn’t just softball stuff. They taught us lots of life lessons.”
Milhorn especially credits Johnson, Skyview’s catcher, for helping her stay calm and focused.
“If I ever had a bad inning, she would come up to me and say ‘you realize you’re the best pitcher out here, right?’ ” Milhorn said. “She made me feel so confident in myself.”
After a 2-1 state quarterfinal win over Battle Ground, Johnson explained what makes Milhorn such a good pitcher.
“It’s definitely mixing up the pitches, not throwing the same thing back to back,” Johnson said. “Get them off balance with the rise ball then get them out with the curve. … With her speed, it’s so hard to touch it in general. And when we’re moving it back and forth, that’s deadly too.”
At the state tournament, Milhorn had 10 strikeouts in a 9-1 first-round win over Inglemoor and 12 strikeouts in the quarterfinals.
But Milhorn suffered a knee injury during the seventh inning of a 4-3 semifinal win over Jackson. Though she’s awaiting the results of an MRI, Milhorn said her doctor believes she suffered a sprain.
Not pitching in the state championship game was tough for Milhorn. She especially wanted to face 4A KingCo Player of the Year and Northwest Bullets club teammate Tia Milloy, who drove in the winning run in Redmond’s 7-6 victory.
“I’ve always been competitive,” Milhorn said. “She’s a great hitter. I wanted to get her so bad.”
Though Skyview fell one win short of what would have been the program’s second state title, Milhorn said the season was nothing short of excellent.
“Our goal was to make it to state,” Milhorn said. “We did, so we’re really proud of ourselves.”
THE REST OF THE ALL-REGION TEAM
Bella Aspaas, Hockinson
Senior shortstop batted .448. Of her 30 hits, 16 went for extra bases including seven home runs.
Emma Elliott, Battle Ground
Senior batted .438 with 34 RBI in 28 games. Of her 39 hits, 21 went for extra bases.
Mary Fogg, Mountain View
Senior outfielder was 3A GSHL Player of the Year, batting .621 (41 for 66) and hitting safely in 19 of 20 games.
Emily Foytack, Mark Morris
Sophomore was 2A GSHL offensive player of year, batting .526 with nine of her 30 hits being home runs.
Kya Jenkins, Skyview
Senior shortstop was 4A GSHL player of the year, batting .526 with 34 runs and 26 RBI in 23 games.
Lauren Johnson, Skyview
Senior catcher was key on-field leader for the Storm. Batted .389, including .429 in the postseason.
Makenzie Misner, Heritage
3A GSHL pitcher of the year led the Timberwolves to their first state tournament berth since 2010. Had 152 strikeouts in just under 132 innings pitched.
Elizabeth Peery, Ridgefield
Sophomore batted .494 with 38 runs and 35 RBI in 26 games. Also pitched, with 81 strikeouts in just under 71 innings and a 3.37 ERA.
Rylee Rehbein, Battle Ground
Junior had a 0.81 ERA and 192 strikeouts in 112 innings. Also batted .447 with 24 RBI and five home runs as Battle Ground placed third in state, its highest finish.
Jadyn Terry, R.A. Long
Junior pitcher was 2A GSHL defensive player of the year, leading the Lumberjills to a 14-8 record and a second-place league finish.
Mallory Vancleave, Ridgefield
Sophomore shortstop was 2A GSHL MVP, batting .554. Of her 46 hits, 21 went for extra bases and eight were homers.