Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - May 15, 2014

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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55 and it didn't all come naturally. "I had to work on my blocking. Framing (pitches) was a whole new thing and wearing a mask and playing with (limited) vision was new. After about a month, if that, it all started to click. "The pitchers and everyone on the team were really lenient with me. They all thought that I caught in high school. Once I let them know this was pretty new to me, they kind of stuck with me." Particularly through the growing pains, the passed balls, Miller said. "Cassandra was great," she add- ed. "She would never ask, 'Why didn't you get that pitch?' She had trust in me behind the plate." That's because Darrah could see the work ethic and the promise in Miller's game. "She was willing to work hard and willing to put in the time to become a catcher, which is definitely hard to do if you haven't done it," Darrah said. "She asked a lot of questions. "I just tried to bring her in (to the mix), and hang out with her a lot ― make her accepted in the bull- pen. I don't know a ton about catching but I know when it looks right. "So I would try to visualize to her what it's sup- posed to look like. It's just very important to be close to your catcher and to have that relationship and friendship outside of the game." As the season has played out, Miller has asserted herself more. "She talks like a coach, too," said Healy with a grin. "You need your catcher to kind of be like your coach on the field." Healy calls all the pitches from the dugout by sig- naling them to Miller. But it's often incumbent upon Miller to know when the timing is right or warranted to visit the circle for a little visit. "They want me to go out there," Miller said of the coaching staff. "And I started doing it more recently because the pitchers have told me, 'It's OK, just come on out here.' "I never really went out there (earlier in the sea- son) because I didn't know what to say or what to do. Now, the team can also come in and we'll talk about different things, softball-related or not." If the Badgers make some noise in Oregon, it's likely her bat will be doing some of the talking. At an early age, Ardie Miller converted Chloe Miller, a natural right-hander, into a left-handed hitter. Father has proven to know best, again "All of them help each other out," Healy said of her power hitters and slappers. "Coach (Randy) Schnei- der always says 'If only one person on your team hits home runs, you can shut them down.' "But if you have a couple, the person behind them is going to see better pitches. She (Miller) makes Mi- chelle better. Steph makes her better. Mary makes them all better. They work in tandem." The Badgers will have their work cut out for them against the No. 1-ranked Ducks. But here's the catch. "Everybody starts even, 0-0," Miller said. "We just have to show them what we've got." "SHE'S DONE EXTREMELY WELL AND I'M SUPER PROUD OF HER – ALL OF HER HARD WORK HAS REALLY PAID OFF AND IT SHOWS," DARRAH SAID OF MILLER. DAVID STLUKA

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