The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 25, 2013

Jon Gerardi's column on high school softball: New warm-weather friend


Daily Item

---- — Sometimes kids are forced to relocate schools for any number of reasons.

For most, it's not too far of a journey. Maybe a move to a neighboring school district or one only a few counties away.

But when Mifflinburg sophomore Molly Davis found out she was going to be transferring schools this year, she soon found out that her new school was probably a little farther away than she expected.

About 2,200 miles farther.

Davis, an outfielder for the Wildcats, originally lived in Glendale, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix and attended Mountain Ridge High School until this past December. That's when her father, Marc, got a job as a general manager for the U.S. Concrete Precast Group, which resulted in he and his daughter having to move to Mifflinburg.

A bit of a contrast, not only size-wise -- Mountain Ridge has an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students with a fairly large campus consisting of seven buildings -- but weather-wise as well.

"I'm still adjusting to it," Davis said of the weather difference. "Just the fogginess, the cold, the snow. I've never seen that much snow in my life until I moved here. I definitely miss that 88-degree weather."

Anyone who's ever gone to a new school knows how anxiety can play a factor. New classmates and new teachers at a school you've never been to can be a bit stressful, especially when you don't know anyone there.

Luckily for Davis though, she was welcomed before she even stepped foot inside of Mifflinburg High School and a big part of that was Mifflinburg's ace pitcher, Alli Lloyd. The senior pitcher got to know her new teammate while she was still living in Arizona.

"She reached out to me probably mid-October (by) talking to me, texting me, telling me about the school (and) the softball program," Davis said. "As soon as I moved here, (we) did a tour of the school. A lot of girls messaged me on Facebook from the softball team."

Davis' teammates told her what grade they were all in and all helped her out on her first day of school. Lloyd also had lunch with Davis before the semester started, easing her transition into Mifflinburg.

"(That) made me a lot less nervous about going to school there," Davis added.

Lloyd's gesture to a new classmate helped establish a bond with Davis, and helped bring not only them, but the team a bit closer.

"She's a great friend. I look up to her as a player and as a person. She's definitely a friend I want to keep in my life for a long time," Davis said.

And that warm welcoming from her teammates before she arrived is something that Davis enjoyed.

"It was great (to have classmates reach out)," Davis said. "I had classes with them. It was just really easy because (we're) best friends on the field (and) best friends in the classroom. Nothing can beat that. It's just a great thing. I keep meeting new people everyday that I know a lot are going to be great friends for the rest of my career at Mifflinburg."

While Davis is only a sophomore, she's definitely no stranger to softball.

She played last year as a freshman for Mountain Ridge High School and played in the summer for the Arizona Suncats, an Amateur Softball Association team. Davis' Suncats squad allowed her to play quality teams, much like ASA teams here do, by going to different tournaments, such as in St. Louis and California to name a few.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association prohibits players from playing in both high school and another organization simultaneously.

"I've been on several teams because, in Arizona, the softball community is pretty small, but big (fan-wise)," Davis said. "You know who the top girls are, (the) top teams are, so you pretty much know everybody."

However, unlike here -- where it feels like winter as early as October and as late as April -- Arizona's warm temperatures allow for non-stop, year-long softball.

"In Arizona you never stop playing. You get a week off in August and keep going," Davis said. "(That's) still something to get used to, that definitely came with the move."

You know what else came with the move? Some pretty good friendships in Mifflinburg that Davis probably wouldn't give up for anything. Not even that sunny, 88-degree Arizona weather.

n Jon Gerardi covers high school softball for The Daily Item. Email comments to him at jgerardi@dailyitem.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JonGerardi.