Prep Signing: East Rowan’s Mills headed to Pfeiffer
By GRANITE QUARRY — Their identical, long, dark hair makes them look like twins from across a room, and even standing just a few feet away, you would swear East Rowan seniors Ally Mills and Sydney Poole have to be sisters.
Mills admits people have yelled, “Hey, Sydney!” at her back as she’s walked to the softball field, and it’s easy to see how that case of mistaken identity could occur.
Mills and Poole, softball sisters, if not blood siblings, will remain a team next season in college. Neither planned it, but like Poole, Mills attracted late-season interest from Pfeiffer, felt at home at the D-II school in Misenheimer and elected to stay close to family and friends.
“Ally’s a good friend and we’ve played together since we were little,” Poole said. “It’s exciting to already know somebody I’ll be playing with at Pfeiffer.”
Mills should be able to help Pfeiffer (21-28 in 2013) because she hits line drives all over the place.
The longer East’s season went, the more often she hit and the harder she hit. Mills finished at .468 (36-for-77), but while .468 is great, she was better than it sounds. She batted .611 (11-for-18) in the postseason, including three 3A state playoff games, where the pitching always gets tougher.
“I got off to a really slow start,” Mills explained. “The weather was crazy and it was just so cold early in the season. I remember going to Davie County for a night game, and we were freezing and everybody was bundled up trying to hit. It got easier when it got warmer, and my hitting really came around at the end,”
Ask Mills what her favorite position is, and she’ll chuckle and say it’s hitting. She’s only half-kidding.
“She progressed with her hitting every year, and being a very good contact hitter was always her biggest thing,” Waddell said. “She’s played a lot of different positions for us, anywhere we’ve needed her, and you’ll always find a position for someone who swings the bat as well as she does.”
Mills first broke into East’s lineup as the designated player, swinging, but not playing in the field. She served as the starting left fielder as a junior and was a capable second baseman as a senior.
“We needed her at second base this year, and she was good at it because she really worked at it,” Poole said.
Mills said she’s been worried, at first, about each position switch, but she’s always settled in and done OK. She also reported that there are times when she can get a little antsy as a hitter.
“I do get nervous easy, but then I calm down,” Mills said. “When I’m loose and relaxed, that’s when I hit, and my teammates helped me relax. They liked to tell me my legs were shaking. That got me laughing, and then I would get a hit.”
Mills’ given name is Allyson, but she’s Ally to everyone who knows her. At least one Pfeiffer player, shortstop Lindsey Russell, already knows Ally well.
Mills is a serious student. She realizes softball won’t last forever, but her hitting talent is going to help her get an education. She plans to use her degree to teach special education or physical education.
“I just love kids, just love seeing them smile,” Mills said.
Poole said the Mustangs have enjoyed it every time Mills has gotten a grin on her face over the years.
“When you see Ally smiling, you know she’s going to hit the ball hard,” Poole said. “She’s a happy-go-lucky player with a great bat.”