Prep girls softball: Megan Mullen is on the mound and determined
For Scott Mullen, the family's garage door was proof enough that his daughter should give up her dream of becoming a softball pitcher. When Megan Mullen was growing up and throwing to a cardboard cutout of a batter, she missed a net set up behind...
For Scott Mullen, the family's garage door was proof enough that his daughter should give up her dream of becoming a softball pitcher.
When Megan Mullen was growing up and throwing to a cardboard cutout of a batter, she missed a net set up behind the plate so often that she put hail-sized dents into the garage door at the family's residence off Highway 2 in Hermantown.
When it came time to sell the house in 2005, Scott Mullen made sure to avoid putting his daughter's handiwork on display.
"When I was showing the house, I made sure the garage door was up," he said with a chuckle.
But instead of listening to her father try to persuade her to give up on pitching and focus on hitting, Megan became more determined to succeed.
"At our old house, my dad really didn't want me to be a pitcher," she said. "Maybe it was just because he didn't want the dents in the garage, but I did it anyway. Honestly, there were dents in every corner and every part of the garage door."
At the time, Hermantown was loaded with quality pitchers. So, her father hoped to steer her in another direction, a la older sister Alyssa, who was an outfielder for the Hawks earlier this decade.
"I tried so hard to talk her out of it," Scott said.
It's a good thing she didn't listen.
Mullen dominated opposing hitters most of the season, leading Hermantown back to the Minnesota Class AA high school state tournament en route to being named the News Tribune's 2008 All-Area Player of the Year.
The sophomore right-hander was 18-3 overall, losing only after she tweaked her knee in a regular-season tournament against Eastview and in the state semifinals and third-place game at North Mankato. She struck out a single-season school record 244 batters, walked just 21 and finished with a 0.65 ERA in 139 innings pitched.
"I didn't expect it to go this well," she said. "And I had a lot of defense when I didn't have such a good game."
Mullen wasn't lost with a bat in her hand either -- her .383 batting average was third on the team -- but she's glad she didn't heed her father's advice and stayed on the pitcher's mound.
"I like the feeling of having more control of the game," she said.
Hermantown coach Tom Bang's glad to be able to rely on a pitcher as talented as Mullen.
"Over the years that we've had good teams here, it's the first time we've been that pitching dominant," said Bang, who completed his 30th season as coach.
Entering the season, pitching was a question mark for the Hawks, who graduated starter Kristina Carlson in 2007. But Bang was confident in Mullen, whom he says had the best overhand throw of any player he's coached when she played in the infield as a freshman.
"We knew her arm was live," Bang said.
Opponents soon found out as well. Mullen allowed only 13 earned runs all season and at midseason went 43 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
Her performance at keeping runners off base made catcher Ellen Folman's job easier.
"I didn't realize how dominating Megan was until after the first couple games," said Folman, who will catch Mullen for the next two years. "Then you'd look in the paper and see she had 14 strikeouts, and you're like 'Wow.' "
All thanks to a few extra dents in a garage door.
RICK WEEGMAN covers prep softball for the News Tribune. He can be reached at (218) 723-5302, (800) 456-8181 or by e-mail at email@example.com .