DOWNS -- With the graduation of standouts Tanna Hinthorne and Molly McCreadie from the softball roster, Tri-Valley junior Mikaela Carr has been thrust into a pitching role for the Vikings and has responded well, leading The Pantagraph area in earned run average heading into games last weekend.
Carr has been a three-year starter in softball and was a part of the Vikings' third-place finish in Class 1A during her freshman year as well as last season's Elite Eight finish.
When not pitching this season, Carr plays second base for the Vikings. She was also among the basketball team's leading scorers this past season.
The Pantagraph met with Carr and learned more about playing softball in a highly successful program that in the past four years has finished third at state twice and qualified for the supersectional two other times.
Question: Compared to the success Tri-Valley has had in recent years, how do you rate this year's softball season?
Answer: "We definitely started out in a rough patch, but over the season we've gotten a lot stronger and improved on our weaknesses. (Coach) Jim (Adams) has been tweaking everything to make us a stronger team and we've gotten a lot closer."
What kind of struggles did you have early in the year?
"I think we weren't used to playing with each other. We didn't know each other's strengths and weaknesses. It was just inexperience in playing together."
How exciting was it to go to the Final Four your freshman year?
"That was very exciting. The girls before had gone to state and it was just amazing to be able to share that experience. I got to play with some amazing softball players are doing well in college now. Last year, going to the Elite Eight was really great, but we really wanted to go to state because the seniors worked so hard. When we weren't able to do that it was a heartbreak, but it was a really good season."
Did you get more comfortable in the pitcher's circle as the season progressed?
"I got a lot more confidence, I would say. And the love for pitching is coming back. I'd been playing first and second and just getting that passion back for pitching is what's making a difference for me on the mound now. I've been pitching since I was nine (years old) and I went through my freshman and sophomore years and didn't pitch in a game, which was fine, because Molly and Tanna definitely got the job done."
What interests do you have outside of sports?
"Sports is definitely my life, but a lot of my social life is hanging out with friends, just to get that time to be a teenager. Playing sports, you have pressure on you all the time. Just to be able to chill is really nice. I just hang out with friends at their houses and stuff. We go to movies, sometimes we play poker ... for fun, something else to do with my friends. I also like to run. Where I live it's really nice and calming so I go out and run. I also ride go-karts and four-wheelers."
What are your favorite subjects in school?
"I love history. I'm really interested in civil rights and just that 1900s era. Our teacher, Mrs. (Barb) Pearson is a really great teacher and she really touches hard topics and brings new and interesting things everyday to class. I learn something new every day."
-- Know an area varsity athlete who would make a fun "Out Loud" guest? Send a suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.