Mila Hargrave pitches for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé against Sitka High School on June 3 during the ASAA Division II State Softball Championships. (Courtesy of JDHS Softball)

Mila Hargrave pitches for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé against Sitka High School on June 3 during the ASAA Division II State Softball Championships. (Courtesy of JDHS Softball)

JDHS all-star softball player to pitch for U.S. team at international tournament

Mila Hargrave selected for one of 16 teams at The Cup in the Netherlands next month.

Mila Hargrave blossomed relatively late as a Juneau softball pitcher, but she’s now getting attention like few before her with an invite to play for a United States team at The Cup, an international indoor tournament in the Netherlands scheduled Jan. 13-15.

Hargrave, 17, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, said she’s been playing softball since she was nine, but it wasn’t until toward the end of her sophomore year in high school that things began to click. Of all the sports she played beginning as a child, softball emerged as her favorite because it allows striving for new heights without fearing inevitable failures.

“I guess I like that there’s so many mistakes that it doesn’t really matter,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “You’re supposed to exerience failure a lot.”

Mila Hargrave practices pitching indoors Thursday evening at the Dimond Park Field House in preparation for The Cup, an international indoor tournament in the Netherlands scheduled Jan. 13-15. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Mila Hargrave practices pitching indoors Thursday evening at the Dimond Park Field House in preparation for The Cup, an international indoor tournament in the Netherlands scheduled Jan. 13-15. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

As a member of the nine-player TFS Europe team, Hargrave will be among 16 teams from the U.S., Czech Republic, Great Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands in the tournament. She was selected by Michael Bastian, a former Olympic and college coach who she first played for during the summer of 2022 during a tournament in California, and then again this summer and fall.

“She has a lot of potential and she’s a good pitcher,” said Lexie Razor, JDHS’ softball coach, discussing how Hargrave got selected from among the players at the summer tournament for the international competition. “She’s pretty strong and her (6-foot, 1-inch) height helps. But she has really improved over the last couple of years. Last year she finished off with the best ERA in the state and she also was recognized for being one of the top pitchers in the northwest for our region.”

JDHS won the 2023 ASAA Division II State Softball Championships this summer with a 6-5 win over Sitka in the title game. Hargrave was also named the first-team pitcher for Region III by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

Hargrave is also a member of the JDHS girls’ basketball team, National Honor Society and a former violin player with the Aurora String Ensemble (which she gave up to focus on softball, along with playing on the volleyball team after two years). She said the participation in so many activities — and growing interest in softball — came from her dad.

“I think I got interested because my dad put me in a bunch of sports,” she said. “One of my best friends now started with me, and her mom was a coach and I saw her playing, and I liked it because of that. And then I just recently started liking it more (than) other sports.”

Improving as a player came with the help of coaches, plus lots of offseason work, Hargrave said.

“I think I’ve just figured out more of how to move my body better,” she said.

The invite by email to go to the tournament in the Netherlands caught her off-guard.

“I thought it was a scam at first,” Hargrave said. Once she realized it wasn’t “it sounded really cool and it’s just like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

She said she’s played with about half of the members of the team she’ll be on, but playing indoors as well as against older players will be new. Since it’s the offseason and Juneau isn’t a great place to be on a ballfield in December, she said she’s been training at the Dimond Park Field House.

“I just recently started pitching indoors to try and get the feel for what it’ll be like when I go there,” she said.

Hargrave said she and her mom will get to spend about a week in Europe, with sponsor help from the City and Borough of Juneau, Tracy’s Crab Shack, The Island Pub, and Juneau Businesses Interiors covering some expenses.

“My mom and I are going to take a train to go see Anne Frank’s house, we’re going to the Eiffel Tower and stuff like that,” she said.

The next step for Hargrave will be picking a college where she plans to continue playing while majoring in business management and marketing, with schools in California, Washington and Montana among those she’s considering.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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