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Karns City Grad Milochik Completes Stellar Debut Season for La Roche University Softball Team

McCANDLESS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Garrah Milochik never caught an inning for the Karns City High School softball team.

She did on some of her travel teams, but strapping on the shin guards and crouching behind the plate was the last thing she expected to do when she went to La Roche University to play collegiate softball this spring.

Yet, here the Redhawk freshman was, starting at catcher at the end of the season because of a rash of injuries at the position.

“We have four catchers on the roster, but two of them have injuries,” Milochik said. “That’s why I’ve been catching so much recently.

“Growing up playing travel ball, I was always the catcher,” Milochik added. “That was my first position from 7-years-old on up. But bringing it back in college was definitely different, but I just got right back into it. It was like riding a bike.”

Milochik already has a bevy of positions under her belt in college. In addition to catcher, she played second, third and short for the Redhawks this season.

All that moving around didn’t affect her play in the field or at the plate.

“I always just expect the unexpected,” Milochik said, chuckling. “I know if my coach wants me at a certain position, I’ll go out and prove to him that I can play anywhere at any time. It’s confidence knowing I can play those positions.”

Milochik handled the bat well, too, for a very young La Roche team.

She was second on the Redhawks in batting average this season at .449, which was also good enough for third in the conference. She had a little pop, too, with six doubles and 17 RBI. She only struck out three times in 81 plate appearances.

Milochik said she expected to make an impact at La Roche.

“It is very exciting that I have the opportunity to play as much as I do,” the Petrolia native said. “I knew I had the confidence to do it, but coming her and actually doing it is pretty exciting. I’ve always been a confident person. I always feel I have the ability. It’s been a lot of fun as well.”

Milochik is one of seven freshmen on the roster. La Roche also has four sophomores and only two seniors.

Despite that youth, the Redhawks still finished with a respectable 11-15 record and a 6-10 mark in the competitive Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.

Milochik prepared herself for the rigors of college softball by playing for several travel teams — the Pittsburgh Spirit, the Pittsburgh Power, Keystone Combat and finally Steel City Select — as well as at Karns City.

It was as a senior with the Gremlins last spring that Milochik realized she had the ability to play in college.

“(Karns City softball coach Mike Stitt) definitely pushed me harder because he knew that I wanted to play at the next level,” Milochik said. “He really motivated me and definitely helped. It’s paying off for the seniors there this year as well.”

Karns City has become something of a college softball feeder system of late. Alyssa Stitt (Clarion University), Mackenzie Dunn (Chatham University) and Milochik are already recent grads who are playing in college.

Current seniors Ashley Fox (Gannon University), Zoe King (Penn State New Kensington) and Ally Walker (Mount Aloysius) have committed or signed to play collegiately next year.

Milochik said she isn’t surprised because of the atmosphere of the Karns City program.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “We had fun on and off the field. All the time. On buses. In practices. In games. Having all that energy in the dugout helped us all play better. I’ve tried to bring that with me to college. I’ve always tried to be a player who is always staying up, that if something bad happens, still have fun. That’s a really big thing. That’s always been a big thing for me growing up. Picking players up.”

Milochik began playing softball at age 7 and never played any other sports. No need to. Softball was it for her. No other sports stood a chance.

Through it all, she’s maintained the same passion for the game.

It’s different in college, though, because of the intensity.

“Everyone there wants to play at that level,” Milochik said. “Everyone’s more into the game and that’s something you don’t see sometimes in high school. Sometimes in high school people just play to play, but here, everyone is playing because they love the game of softball.”

Milochik said she was extremely nervous for her first game at La Roche, but quickly got over it as she experienced more and more success.

“The main thing was realizing I could play at the collegiate level,” Milochik said. “I was recruited to play here and my coach has confidence in me. I just needed to calm down and perform.”

And Milochik certainly has done that.

“Personally, my goal is to just help the team,” Milochik said. “It’s not so much about myself. I want to be able to help the team wherever they need me, whatever I can do. That’s the way it’s been from the beginning. That’s all I wanted.”

Milochik will always cherish her freshman season at La Roche and the bond that formed with her teammates.

“My favorite memory of the season would have to be singing karaoke on the bus rides down to Myrtle Beach during spring training,” Milochik said. “I’m most proud of staying in the top 5 in the conference all season for batting average and finishing third.”