Alex Miles is determined to make his senior year of baseball his best yet, and by the way he’s been pitching and the confidence he’s shown on the mound, he’s well on his way to achieving that goal.
In the first game of the season, the two-year varsity player, who doubles as the starting shortstop when he’s not on the mound, pitched for six innings and struck out 14 players. After that hot start, he has continued to amaze. He’s batting .444, with three RBI’s and three runs scored through five games at the plate. But even more impressive is his pitching. He is 1-1 with one save, has thrown 13 1/3 innings, only given up two earned runs, and has struck out 19 batters. Opponents are only batting .167 against him.
According to first-year head coach Jim Hastings, “Alex is a good pitcher who is very resilient and throws a lot of strikes. If we are going to be successful this year, Alex is going to be a big reason why, both as a pitcher and a shortstop. When he’s on the mound I have total confidence in him and feel like we have a really good chance of winning the game. I also think his teammates feed off of his attitude and self-confidence.”
Alex was first introduced to the game by playing T-ball. Although he played other sports along the way, he believes he has always been drawn to “America’s favorite national pastime.”
“It’s more complicated than other sports and it’s a good mental challenge for me,” Alex says.
While he doesn’t have a specific childhood memory of playing the game, he does vividly recall hitting his first home run. “I still have the ball,” he says as he retrieved the ball from his trophy collection. “Here it is… It was August, 30, 2013, during either summer or fall ball.
“I also remember my first win as a pitcher. I was in seventh grade in middle schooI. I closed that game, and we won when I struck out the kid with bases loaded.”
His pitching was always ahead of the curve, so to speak.
“A lot of coaches tell kids to wait until their teens to learn to throw a curve ball, but I was able to do it at 12 because that was my natural arm angle,” he says. “It gave me an advantage.”
Today he is considered a “submarine pitcher,” a rare side-arm style of pitching for a high school player, and his go-to pitch is the slider. He also clocks close to an 80-mph fastball, a very respectable speed for a high school player, and says he’s now working to perfect his change-up pitch.
But more than that, Alex wants to be team leader. “There were a lot of good seniors on the team last year that taught me how to step up and mentally compete on a higher level,” says the player who doubles as shortstop when he’s not on the mound. “That’s what I want to do this year for the team.”
Besides his leadership skills, Alex also brings to the team resilience and competitiveness, traits he believes can bring out the best in people.
“If there is a point in a game where I am challenged or maybe just surprised by something an opponent might do, I will step off of the mound, take a deep breath, and just assure myself that I have a good team behind me and a good defense if the ball goes into play,” he says.
His faith in himself, his teammates, and new coach Jim Hastings lead him to say, “I feel like we definitely have a shot at making the playoffs and that’s a good, achievable goal. We play in a really tough section with a lot of tough teams that are very competitive year after year, but we have a supportive team and a good coaching staff on and off the field who bring a lot of positive influence.”
That upbeat attitude also reflects his approach to a future in baseball. Quite a few NCAA Division III colleges have shown interest in him, but he’s focused on his final high school season for now.
As far as playing at the next level, he says, “I’m keeping a positive mind, but we’ll see how things go.”