Miriam Schmoll was 4 years old when her family doctor recommended she find a way to lose weight.
"He told my parents to get me into a sport," Schmoll says with a grin.
A short time later, someone in the family saw a flyer about a softball league for kids, and Schmoll decided to give it a try.
It's 11 years later and that chubby little girl has turned into a well-conditioned pitching phenom. She took the area by storm last season, carrying the Bayshore softball team to its first state tournament berth while dominating hitters.
For her efforts, Schmoll has been selected the Bradenton Herald All-Area Softball Player of the Year.
The right-hander compiled a 16-4 record while striking out an astonishing 211 batters in 132 2/3 innings while compiling a 1.21 earned-run average.
The recently turned 15-year-old displayed an uncanny arsenal of
pitches she can throw at different speeds and a demeanor that never changes
And Schmoll was nearly as dangerous at the plate for the Bruins, who finished the season with a 23-5 record. She had a .444 batting average and was second on the team with 30 RBIs and five homers.
Schmoll is so dedicated to staying in shape that she saved up her own money to buy a treadmill in middle school so she could work out every morning before school.
"When I am on the mound, I take it pitch by pitch and stay focused on hitting a spot. I don't get caught up on a pitch I already threw," Schmoll said. "When someone hits a homer off of me, I think no one is perfect. The next time I face that hitter I try to throw hard and work a different area of the plate."
Bayshore head softball coach Frank Luther said the thing that separates Schmoll from her peers is her maturity.
"Miriam is very mature, especially for a freshman," Luther said. "She studies the game and when you look at her on the mound she does exactly what college pitchers do between pitches. She takes her time and is never in a rush. You can't tell whether we are winning or losing by looking at her."
Born in Fort Lauderdale, Schmoll started out as a third baseman and then became a catcher. She started pitching at the age of 7 and never stopped.
"I love pitching because of the mental part," Schmoll said. "The pitcher is given the ball and given the game, and you have to take it to the next level."
Schmoll is meticulous in how she runs her life on and off the mound. Since 6 years old, she has utilized what she calls a motivational board on a daily basis. Every day she writes down her goals and, when the year ends, she takes her board apart and reassesses her goals.
"Miriam is all about motivation," said her father, Shawn. "She came across athletes who excelled and saw they had motivational boards."
Miriam also has excelled in the other areas of her life. She has a 4.6 grade-point average despite taking all honors classes. She will graduate high school with an associate's degree and nearly two years of college credits.
"She just handles things so well," Luther said. "During the middle of the season she was dealing with a back injury and had some adversity, but you could never tell. She doesn't get down when things don't go well."
In her games with Bayshore and nearly all of her travel ball games, Schmoll's father calls her pitches.
"She has a knuckleball, change-up, curve, drop ball, change curve, screwball and riseball, but usually we plan on throwing three pitches during a game," Shawn Schmoll said. "In certain days, the curve might not be curving because of the wind so before a game we pick the ones to throw, but she might change during a game."