Even in the face of adversity, Miriam Schmoll never lost her focus.
Rebounding from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that robbed her of her sophomore softball season, Schmoll led the Bayshore Bruins to a state championship game appearance last spring as a junior.
Inside Bayshore High's media center on Wednesday, Schmoll secured her next step when she inked a national letter of intent with the University of South Florida on the first day of the early signing day period.
"It was basically USF all the way," said Schmoll, who struck out 206 in 120 innings with a 0.29 ERA last season.
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Bayshore head coach Frank Luther said Schmoll is the toughest player he's ever seen.
Former USF assistant coach Mo Triner, who is Schmoll's pitching coach, agreed.
"To see a kid that's willing to fight to get back to it that shows how much they love the sport," Triner said. "And how much they really actually enjoy doing what they do."
Triner first saw Schmoll when the right-handed pitching wiz was in the seventh grade and competing on an 18-and-under travel ball team.
It was at the Greco Softball Complex in Tampa during a tournament when Schmoll caught Triner's eye, and her recruitment began.
"It was impressive how she handled herself on the mound against such older kids," recalled Triner about that first time she saw Schmoll pitch.
Schmoll verbally committed to the Bulls as a freshman, where she led Bayshore to the softball program's first state final four.
When she tore her ACL in her sophomore season, Schmoll called USF head coach Ken Eriksen to find out what would happen with her future scholarship.
"'Are you going to take my scholarship away. What's going on?'," Schmoll said. "And he was like, 'No, we've got your back. Everything is good to go.'"
Her toughness and self-belief were tested with the torn ACL, but those are two traits her father, Shawn, said she possesses during a speech he gave on her signing in front of friends, teammates, school officials and family.
Shawn also explained how Miriam, a two-time Herald Softball Player of the Year, became so good at softball.
Shawn said his wife Stacy, through her psychology background, found the 10,000 hour rule. It comes from writer Malcolm Gladwell, who suggests 10,000 hours of practice are needed to become a master in any craft.
So owing to her literal sense, Miriam Schmoll began reaching that milestone at a young age. Shawn said Miriam put a vision board up in her bedroom to look at each day.
"You put that into perspective, that's 10 years at 1,000 hours a year," Shawn said. "That's a minimum of 20 hours a week. Twenty hours a week, she puts into that and is still able to keep a GPA and has never gotten less than an 'A' in any of her classes."
He also unveiled his first meeting of his daughter during his Wednesday speech, which was gripped with emotion.
It was when she was born and at the hospital room Shawn needed to hold her foot to get the print on her birth certificate.
The first attempt, Miriam's leg moved as it touched the paper. The nurse and Shawn laughed and tried again.
Eventually, they got it.
"After the fifth time, I thought I was in a MMA fight," Shawn said.
Added Miriam: "We still have all the copies that I, apparently, messed up. Even the fifth one, they said it still got a really bad smear on it."