DARKE COUNTY – Two Darke County athletes who had breakout performances in the opening weeks of the spring sports season are this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week.
This week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week are Bradford softball player Skipp Miller and Tri-Village boys track and field athlete Austin Bruner.
In her first five high school games, Miller positioned herself atop Darke County with a .667 batting average. She also drove in nine runs.
As a pitcher the Bradford freshman had a county-best 0.48 ERA to begin the season.
“Skipp is having a great start to the season and a great start to her high school career,” Bradford softball coach Shon Schaffer said. “Skipp is a polite, smart young lady, a tremendous student and is liked among her peers. But on the softball field she turns into fierce competitor.”
One of the best games of Miller’s career came last week against Versailles as she pitched a one-hit shutout. She struck out 19 batters in seven innings against the Tigers.
Led by Miller, Bradford is ranked third in the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Division IV state rankings.
“She works hard at what she does, harder than I have ever seen anyone work at this level,” Schaffer said. “And not just going through the motions. She loves to work to get better.”
Bruner is the fastest Darke County track and field athlete this year in the 100 meter dash (11.49), 200 meter dash (22.61) 400 meter dash (52.29).
“I’m just real proud of him,” Tri-Village track and field coach Scott Warren said. “I think that he has prepared for this year. He spent a lot of time in the weight room, which is quite noticeable. His attitude is better. He’s more focused. He runs with confidence, and I think most importantly he’s having fun.”
Bruner had a breakout performance at Twin Valley South’s Fred Durkle Invitational last week as he won all three sprint events – the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters.
“I knew he had ran some pretty good times at some other meets, but I wasn’t real sure because that is our first big meet,” Warren said of Bruner’s performance. “I knew there would be some stiffer competition. I wasn’t sure how he would do. I knew he would do well. I guess I wasn’t expecting him to win all three.”
Along with being one of the team’s best athletes, Bruner also is establishing himself as a leader for the Patriots.
“He’s become a team leader, and as a coach I need that,” Warren said. “I can count on him to do the things that need to be done.”
Bruner’s performances early this season has the Patriots excited about what the rest of the season will bring for the Tri-Village junior.
“He’s got some big hopes coming up here in the next couple weeks, and I think he’s going to do just fine,” Warren said. “He’s putting up some nice marks, and it’s going to be fun to watch as the competition grows how he turns it up another notch.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.