By GREG GULAS
With 27 career home runs, Poland High softball slugger Taylor Miokovic ranks eighth overall in the state. And she’s just 13 behind the all-time state leader.
Thursday at the Poland high school library, Miokovic made her college choice official by signing a national letter-of-intent to attend Eastern Illinois University. “My lifelong dream has been to play Division I softball and I am very happy to be playing for Coach [Angie] Nicholson and her staff,” Miokovic said. “They recruited me over the past four years and from my very first visit on the EIU campus, I felt this would be the right fit for me.”
As a freshman, Miokovic made a verbal commitment to YSU’s Horizon League foe Cleveland State, but when then Vikings head coach Angie Nicholson moved on to Eastern Illinois, the allure of playing a tough Ohio Valley Conference and national schedule was just too much to pass up.
A first baseman/pitcher, Miokovic is a three-year letterwinner who has helped the Bulldogs to a 74-13 overall mark and the 2011 Division II state championship.
As a freshman, she had the game-winning hit in the championship game.
“Taylor is extremely talented and a competitor who just loves softball,” Poland softball coach Matt Campbell said. “She works hard at her game and it seems as if she’s either hitting, pitching or working out 24/7, 365 days a year.
“Angie and assistant coach, Stephanie Taylor pursued her since her freshman season and she has a great relationship with them,” Campbell said. “I am sure it was a very tough decision to have to choose between Cleveland State and Eastern Illinois, but I can tell you that EIU is getting an excellent softball player.”
A first-team All-American Conference selection for three varsity seasons, Miokovic served as team captain and was first-team All-NEO last season.
She already has eclipsed the Poland single season and career home run marks and has a .382 career batting average (103 for 269).
Her .818 slugging percentage is one of the school’s best all-time, having struck out just 39 times in 317 plate appearances.
“I’ve had some great players during my 22 years as Poland head coach and Taylor [Miokovic] ranks right up there with all of them,” said Reid Lamport, Poland’s softball coach from 1991-2012. “She’s dedicated, understands the game and is totally committed to the sport.
“She plays the game like it’s her passion in life and will do well at the next level.”
Miokovic has driven in 127 runs (50 in each the past two seasons). While her play around first base and at the plate has been well-documented, Campbell is hoping for an expanded mound role during her final scholastic season.
“She’s a lefty with nice speed, plenty of movement on the ball so we’ll also count on her quite a bit as a pitcher this year,” Campbell said.
Miokovic said Campbell and Lamport have had a profound effect on her career.
“Coach Campbell works hard with all of the players. He always encourages me to follow my dreams and never give up,” Miokovic noted. “Coach Lamport opened me up my freshman year and brought out my intensity. I was that quiet kid in the corner but Jenna Modic and Erin Gabriel took me under their wings and helped me open up, both as a player and person.”