STEPPING UP: Midway softball alum starring at Barton College

By DONNELL COLEY
Sports editor
Posted 4/19/22

Former Midway softball standout Miranda Holmes goes one-on-one with The Daily Record after collecting her 10th win for Barton College recently.

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STEPPING UP: Midway softball alum starring at Barton College

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An elongated step forward with her right foot, followed by a high-arching kick with her left.

That’s all it takes for Miranda Holmes to spin her next scintillating pitch to the plate.

A tried and true mechanic that lifted the rangy righty to one of the best softball careers ever at Midway High School — and is still seeing results as she steps up to the college ranks.

“Everyone has always told me, ‘As you get older, the game stays the same. The only thing that changes is the speed of it,’” said the Barton College freshman during a recent phone interview with The Daily Record.

“And so, I think that has been the biggest adjustment is just keeping up with the speed of the game. ... making sure you’re on your P’s and Q’s and you know the game in and out.”

A ‘special’ start

Holmes finished with 331 strikeouts as a prep standout, including a career-best 158 punchouts in 2021 to help take home Daily Record Pitcher of the Year.

She’s been just as impressive in her first collegiate season, currently leading Barton with a 10-2 record, 3.09 ERA and 89 strikeouts.

“This year has been a really special year for me. I’ve been blessed with really great teammates, and a really great coaching staff that has made it a whole lot easier to thrive at Barton,” she said.

“It feels really good to just know that I have teammates who have my back, and I’m there for them. So it’s been really nice just to come in and be able to do my job I was given and to help my teammates out.”

Barton coach Junior Bailey took note of Holmes’ “strong work ethic” from the moment she stepped on the Wilson campus. Weightlifting workouts in the summer and fall were accentuated by winter sessions with her pitching coach.

Come spring, Bailey had no problem installing the first-year phenom into his already potent pitching rotation.

“We (coaches) felt that way immediately. I mean, Miranda has come in and she’s done a really good job,” Bailey said. 

“She’s always had kind of a confidence on the mound, and she just commands her pitches so well ... It’s really nice to know when she’s out there, it gives you a very good chance to do well.”

Meeting expectations

Starts that lasted three to four innings earlier in the season have now turned into the longer outings Holmes was notorious for in high school.

She’s gone the distance in three of the last four starts and earned her 10th win on April 12, a 1-0 shutout over Francis Marion University in which she allowed just two hits and added nine strikeouts.

Holmes acknowledges some initial apprehension in living up to the hype surrounding her incoming classmates, especially following the previous class that featured last year’s ace in sophomore starter Rilee Jones.

“I think when we came in here, our new freshman class, I think they did have big expectations. And I think that I’ve done a good job at trying to meet those expectations,” Holmes said.

“And I tried to keep a good composure for my teammates and that’s something I think that is really good, and that they like about me, is that I do well under pressure.”

Unlike her high school days, however, she added that the defensive burden is gladly shared amongst a loaded pitching staff that’s posted a 25-7 record this season.

Positive impact

Taking time to find joy in uplifting teammates when they excel, or even when they make a mistake, has invigorated a Lady Bulldogs group that has been one of NCAA Division II's best in 2022.   

“You never see her without a smile on her face. She’s just always very positive, a very positive person, and she’s been a great addition to our program for sure,” Bailey said.

It’s a similar positivity that helped the Godwin native revive the Lady Raiders from a championship lull, boasting three East Central Conference titles in four years.

Not lost on her is what impact Holmes’ most recent successes are having on the next generation of Spivey’s Corner standouts, with who she has the utmost confidence.

“Midway, that’s my home. ... It’s exciting to see that there’s girls coming up who are willing to work hard and ready to put in the effort to keep Midway on a good path,” she said of the current Lady Raiders, who are 10-4 overall and a perfect 8-0 in league play.

‘Not there yet’

Holmes’ competitive spirit isn’t allowing for complacency, despite the backing of her new teammates and community. 

A relentless approach to training, developed way before the spring season, has continued deep into a freshman campaign that is nearing its conclusion with just six more games left on the schedule.

“I’m still like that right now ... at practice, I go in and get extra time and I still see myself as like, ‘Hey, I’m not there yet.’ Like I still need more to get better,” Holmes said.

BC is currently ranked second in an ultra-competitive Carolinas Conference, but Holmes has her sights on both regular-season and tournament titles. To do so, she says defensive work ahead of game days will “make the hard plays look easy.”

Meanwhile, Bailey shares the same short-term vision and still has his sights set on the future strides of his latest star. 

“I just look forward to her (Holmes) to continue to do well and lead and compete,” he said. “She’s just a pleasure to coach, which makes it really nice. She just comes and brings it and I hope she’ll continue to do that.”

The Lady Bulldogs are set to wrap up league play at UNC Pembroke during Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Donnell Coley can be reached at dcoley@mydailyrecord.com or 910-230-2040

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