PRINCETON: HiTOPS/Princeton Packet Softball Player of the Year

Million enjoyed final season at Hun

By Justin Feil, Assistant Sports Editor
   Carey Million played field hockey and basketball at The Hun School, but it is softball that is her greatest passion.
   Million’s dedication to softball paid off even before she began her senior year with the Raiders as she was offered a spot and committed to joining Elon University’s softball team next year. That decision enabled her to relax and just play while being a leader for Hun.
   ”I think I played more confidently knowing where I was going to play,” Million said. “I was more relaxed and I played better. It showed. And I think we did better as a team too. It was the best year.”
   Million played a vital role both in the field and at the plate for the Raiders. In the field, she took her usual spot at catcher, but not to catch a veteran pitcher. Freshman Alexis Goeke stepped into a big spot and Million helped her adjust to the varsity level and gain confidence.
   ”Having a good catcher is just as important as having a good infield or outfield,” Goeke said. “Of course I was nervous, but she helped me settle in. I’ve had a ton of catchers in my career so far, but she was definitely one of the best. She’ll be missed.”
   As Million has since she came to Hun from Roebling, she called all the pitches. It helped her to analyze the game and be a better player herself.
   ”I think I have enough experience to know the batters and their stances and the situation,” Million said. “If you want to hit the ball on a certain side of the field, you know where you want the ball to be placed.”
   At the plate, Million used her experience and emerging strength to enjoy her finest season as a Raider. In 17 games, she hit .491 with 26 hits, 26 runs batted in, 23 runs scored, two doubles, two triples and six home runs. She also walked seven times while striking out just once all year.
   ”I’m proud of my timely hitting,” Million said, “especially when I helped win games with knocking runners in. That’s probably the most important thing I’m proud of.”
   The Raiders won some big games. They crushed Blair to start the year, then again in the Prep A state semifinals. The Raiders knocked off the highly respected Steinert program, and Hun’s year closed at 11-7 after they reached the Prep A state final.
   Carey Million is the HiTOPS/Princeton Packet Softball Player of the Year.
   ”I just think each year she got stronger and more confident with what she did,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk. “She was confident throwing someone out at first or third. If someone was stealing, she wasn’t afraid to throw. She did not think twice about picking a player off. I was worried sometimes just that our other players were paying attention when she would throw it down.
   ”She’s going to be missed next year,” she added. “She’ll be a true asset to the Elon program.”
   Million worked out year-round in preparation for softball season. She went to some of Goeke’s workouts to figure out her new battery mate and how she threw, and let Goeke see how she caught. Million demanded the best of herself and of her teammates.
   ”I knew she had my best interests in mind,” Goeke said. “She would push me. If she always told me I was doing good if I was doing bad, it wouldn’t help me. Sometimes you need that extra push to do your best. Even though she was tough on me, I knew it was out of our friendship she was trying to get me to pitch my best.
   ”She was like a big role model for me,” she added. “Not only catching for me, hitting home runs, throwing hard, running fast. She was a team captain and a good player to look up to.”
   Million was determined to make the most of her final scholastic season. She was hesitant to get overly excited by an unbeaten Florida spring trip in which the competition wasn’t that good, but once the year began she saw the potential of a Hun team that still had just three seniors in its lineup.
   ”We all played last year,” Million said. “We had a bunch of athletes mixed in with a bunch of softball players. We worked well together.”
   Million is a bit of both, an athlete that holds softball at the highest pedestal. She had started playing early, following in the footsteps of her sister, Emily, who was a pitcher.
   ”Softball was the family sport,” said Million, whose father was a catcher. “I liked playing other sports too. I played a little bit of everything when I was little.”
   That love of sports didn’t stop when she came to Hun. She played three sports for the Raiders.
   ”I think playing other sports, you can take something from each sport and improve in another sport,” Million explained. “Every sport, you need to be agile. Basketball helps with footwork and field hockey helps with some stamina.”
   Million played almost everywhere on the softball field as a youngster, and at 12 she started to catch. That put her in a natural leadership spot. While she took a back seat to her sister when the two were on the same team, Million has developed into a bigger leader each year for the Raiders.
   ”I think this year, her leadership qualities were excellent,” Quirk said. “She led the younger kids. She was a great example. She worked on batting, she would constantly be at the tee.
   ”She played with confidence. She got up there not to hit home runs and the ball just carried wherever she hit it to.”
   Quirk doesn’t keep records, but the longtime Raiders coach can’t remember a player with six home runs. Million homered at a ratio of one at least every three games.
   ”I’m surprised that they were home runs, but not with the power,” said Million, who batted third in the Hun lineup. “I’ve been doing things to get stronger. I’m happy to see that that all paid off. The home runs were the surprise, not the power hits.”
   Million delivered time and again in her role to drive in runs. She led Hun in RBI which helped take pressure off Goeke to be perfect and helped give the Raiders a constant threat.
   ”She’s always has been a strong hitter,” Quirk said. “I think this year she’s had her best season. I think it came with the maturity and more confidence and wanting to be the best she could be.”
   When Million came to Hun, she put pressure on herself to make a mark and to separate herself from other new athletes. This year, with signing with Elon, a lot of that pressure to prove herself was gone and she showed what she could do.
   ”My dad would always tell me, get a good pitch to hit,” Million said. “I think I was more relaxed. I didn’t have to press to get those stats, they just came with patience and confidence. The last two years, I was trying to prove myself within the league.”
   Million continues to grow as a player. A former member of the New Jersey Outlaws travel team, she now plays for the Newtown Rock Gold. She is working to make sure she can help Elon.
   ”I think she’s going to do well at the next level,” Quirk said. “I look at Morgan Cawley who went on to play DI (Cornell University). It took her a year or two to break in. I think Carey has the same drive. Not only can she hit, she can bunt, she can run. If you need her as a bunter, she does it well.
   ”I just think she’s going to go in and be an impact player for her. I think Meg Hayes (Babson College) is the same thing. It’s because they work out and want to be there. I know Carey has already started her workout for next year. She wants to be in that lineup.”
   Million knows the game will move faster and she will be surrounded by other softball-first athletes like herself. She is ready to show up stronger and more determined as she prepares to prove herself all over again at the next level.
   ”Next year, my goal is to play wherever they put me,” Million said. “I want to be on the field as a freshman.”