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Cavin born to play behind the plate

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Miranda Cavin

Tom Cavin looked at his team roster and saw one hole: catcher.

He had never coached. His only training included 13 years of martial arts. He knew nothing about softball. 

He had only one person he could trust at catcher, his daughter, Miranda, who is now a freshman catcher at Oklahoma State. 

He knew she was special, but he didn’t know what to expect when putting her behind the plate. He got more than he could have asked for.

Even though Miranda was 8, she could throw from home plate to second base on a line instead of arcing it like most kids her age. 

She could throw out the fastest runners on any team.

Tom said Miranda got attention from the beginning of her career because of her talent.

“She was born with this incredible arm that every team that saw her was amazed she had that arm,” Tom said. “Even at the age of 12, there were college coaches watching her to see her throw down.”

Miranda grew up in Illinois and wasn’t always sure sports were for her, but her dad kept pushing.

“It wasn’t really my choice to begin with,” she said. “My dad kinda pushed for me to do sports. I tried basketball, swimming and soccer, and I kinda just stuck with T-ball since I was 4 or 5.”

All of the Cavin family loves softball. Tom coached Miranda for 11 years and her sister, Briana, is a pitcher. Tom helped Miranda perfect her skills whenever there was free time. Because Briana was a pitcher, Tom wanted Miranda to play catcher so they could practice together.

“My dad thought it would be neat if I could catch for her all the time,” Miranda said.

All of Cavin’s skills paid off when she earned a spot on Chi-Town Express, a premier 12-and-under team in Chicago. Miranda said every other team viewed Chi-Town Express as a rival. Even at her young age, she struck fear into her opponents.

“Throughout my whole career, when I was younger it was like, ‘Oh, Miranda Cavin’s up to bat,’” she said. “Like, it was a great feeling for me to hear. Like, everyone was saying, ‘Don’t pitch to her,’ like, ‘Don’t steal on her.’ It was a great feeling.”

Tom said he enjoyed watching teams react every time she would bat. Her size is misleading. Even now, she is 5-foot-5 but boasts power many catchers don’t have.

“(Teams) would see Miranda come up to bat and they would pull the infield in,” Tom said. “That was a big mistake … Every time she came up to bat, she would hit the ball no matter what.”

For the past two summers, Miranda played for the Beverly Bandits, a Chicago-area premier 18-and-under team. She traveled to California and Colorado to play in tournaments.

She had a difficult decision to make for college. She was one of the best players in Illinois and was highly recruited. She had offers from about 30 colleges, including Northwestern University and the University of Arkansas. Her visit to OSU cemented her decision.

“I love the campus and the weather was really beautiful when I came,” Cavin said. “I also liked the coaching staff and the girls when I came on my first visit … It was just a great atmosphere to be around.”

Tom said Miranda dreamed of playing in the Women’s College World Series. Being at OSU gives her that opportunity.

Miranda said the biggest challenge of attending OSU is being far from home. She goes back to Illinois during breaks when she isn’t playing. She said it took her awhile to adjust to the distance.

“The first couple months in school was kinda hard because I missed my family and all my friends,” Miranda said. “I went home for Christmas break and … everything kinda fell into place, and I was more comfortable.”

The fall semester included some one-day trips to get the team experience. She quickly learned the differences of playing on a college team.

“I definitely felt a lot of pressure because I knew everyone was watching me because I am back there and everyone’s facing me,” Cavin said.

Early in the season, Miranda showcased her talents and became an integral part of the team. Assistant coach Kelsi Dunne said she thinks the catcher is one of the most important players on the field, and Miranda performs well under the pressure.

“The catcher gets you strikes when you need them, and Miranda, she’s been so special on our staff because she works so well with every single one of our pitchers,” Dunne said.

Adjusting to a new catcher can be a difficult task, but for senior pitcher Simone Freeman, the adjustment was simple.

“She’s just very relaxed and very trusting,” Freeman said. “She’ll … back you until the house falls down pretty much, so that’s a lot of confidence.”

Coach Rich Wieligman said Miranda is composed, and that helps the pitchers’ confidence during games. He said she is one of the best catchers he has seen and will help the program be competitive. 

“I think that’s big for a pitcher to have confidence in their catcher on what’s going on back there and not having to worry about that,” Wieligman said. “You know, I don’t think (Freeman) worries about any pitch she’s throwing. Miranda is gonna come up with it, knock it down and does a really good job of framing pitches.”

Even with all her success, Miranda remembers where she started and the work it took to get to OSU. She has played for 14 years and put in thousands of hours of practice. She has struck fear into teams across the country. Above all, she treasures those 11 years when her dad was her coach.

“He definitely has been there through everything with me,” Miranda said. “He’s pushed me to not give up on myself, or if I’m having a bad day, he’s always there to push me through … He’s always been coaching me through my whole life, so he’s kind of like my backbone.”

 

sports@ocolly.com