It's said that hard work beats talent -- especially when talent meets hard work. A constant name on the Star Tribune Metro Honor Roll in softball for both batting and pitching, senior Micaela LaRose of Holy Family is proof. She shared her perspective on what it takes to be an all-conference player, team MVP and conference champion.
Holy Family currently holds the top spot in the Minnesota River conference standings this season with a 15-3 overall record. The dual-talented LaRose has pitched every game with a 1.66 season ERA and boasts a .468 batting average peppered with extra-base hits -- all after overcoming a shoulder injury this past winter. She attributes her success to realistic and measurable goal-setting teamed with a lot of sweat and elbow grease.
Q It takes a lot of extra effort for a softball player to be dominant in both pitching and batting. Tell me about how you achieved that.
A A lot of practice outside of [scheduled practice]. All winter I go to pitching and hitting clinics about every Wednesday for one hour of pitching and one hour of batting. I also work with my parents on both and, actually, my mom was a pitcher in college, so she really helps me a lot.
Q So, basically, you have your own personal pitching coach?
A [Laughs] Yeah, she's really better than [any other resources available].
Q Since your mom played in college, do you plan on following in her footsteps?
A Yeah, probably at Carleton, in Northfield, which is actually where my mom played too.
Q Do you know yet if you will be able to pitch for Carleton?
A I just started talking to the coach, so I have to send her a video soon, but I just found out that's where I ended up deciding to go about a week ago.
Q What have been your greatest challenges as an athlete and how have you overcome them?
A Staying out of my head. I tend to overthink things a lot. I struggled a lot on pitching, so working on my fastball and other things over and over so I don't have to think about it anymore and I can be calm.
Q So, rather than getting pumped up to mentally prepare for a game, you would rather calm and center yourself to get into "game mode?"
A Yeah, I like to be calm. I hate to stress before a game. Sometimes I'm the only one pumped up and hyper and [other teammates] are like, "Micaela, chill." [Laughs.] When I'm not calm, I pitch too fast ... so it's better to be calm.
Q Last year you were honored as one of the Minnesota River all- conference team players and one of the MVPs. Plus your team won the conference title. How did that feel?
A It was very exciting. Being conference MVP was a goal I set because [in 2009] I found out that my number of errors was probably the reason why I didn't make it then, so when I made it last year that felt really good. [In 2009, our team] got knocked out the first game of the playoffs so it was really important for us when we won the conference [in 2010].
Q What are your other goals for the future?
A Getting more control of my pitches other than my fastball. In batting, I want a higher batting average. This year's was OK, but I still felt like I struggled with it. I'd really like to hit a home run. Even though I can hit balls really deep, I've never gotten a home run.