Labette Cardinals catcher Audrey Miller, who earned NJCAA Division II Second Team All-America honors as a power-hitting freshman, committed to continuing her career at Pittsburg State during Thanksgiving week.

Miller, now a sophomore for the Cardinals, will finish her two-year stint with Labette prior to heading a half-hour east to the NCAA Div. II school.

“I’m excited for her,” Labette head coach Ryan Phillips said. “She produced and did her part to give herself lots of options. She wanted to stay somewhat close to home. She felt Pitt State was the best fit for her, and I agree. They’re doing a tremendous job building that program over there. Audrey has proven that she can be successful in the MIAA.” 

Miller, a Tonganoxie native, said she was impressed with Gorillas head coach Ashley Balazs, who took over the program in July 2017.

“I liked the coaching staff and enjoyed the visit,” Miller said. “When we played them in a fall, I saw they were a solid team.” 

Miller was an unheralded recruit out of Tonganoxie High School. Labette was the only Kansas Jayhawk Conference school to offer her a scholarship after the catcher suffered a torn ACL in her junior year.

But after Phillips gave Miller her opportunity, she became one of the best power hitters in the nation. She was Labette’s leader in nearly every significant offensive category, pacing the Cardinals in batting average (.415), extra-base hits (24), home runs (11), RBI (44), on-base percentage (.463) and slugging percentage (.756). 

The 11 home runs Miller blasted as a freshman rank third all-time in school history for a single season. 

“I figured I would be done after two years,” Miller said. “I didn’t know where the game would take me. So I’m really glad I came to Labette and now have the opportunity to play on.” 

“Recruiting is so much by chance and luck at the high school level,” Phillips added. “You’ve got to be at the right place and the right time. That’s why junior college is such a great opportunity to get exposure.” 

Phillips believes Miller will be ready to make the transition to NCAA softball after the spring season with Labette.

“She’s proven that she can be successful and showcase her talents,” Phillips said. “She got the opportunity to do that here and I expect it at the next level.” 

As for Miller, who also received four-year recruiting interest from Washburn and Cottey College, she’s ready to help Labette contend for a KJCCC title and its fourth-ever national tournament berth.

“I can never settle personally,” Miller said. “I’ve still got to work at getting better and helping my teammates get better.” 

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