Prep Baseball

Cam Miller continues his role as ace for 3A No. 5 Solon baseball

All-state baseball and football standout ranks second in 3A with 61 strikeouts

Solon pitcher Cam Miller (4) strikes out Sioux City Bishop Heelan’s Cael Boever (1) during the sixth inning of their 3A quarterfinal game in the state baseball tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jul. 24, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Solon pitcher Cam Miller (4) strikes out Sioux City Bishop Heelan’s Cael Boever (1) during the sixth inning of their 3A quarterfinal game in the state baseball tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jul. 24, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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SOLON — Cam Miller has been a stalwart in Solon’s pitching rotation the last two seasons.

The junior right-hander has continued his role as ace with a strong start.

The returning all-stater owns a 4-0 record with a save and 0.38 earned-run average, ranking second in Class 3A with 61 strikeouts and just five walks. He has been a leader for the fifth-ranked Spartans, helping them to a 13-5 overall record.

“Every year he’s gotten better,” Solon Coach Keith McSweeney said. “He’s taken a step each year. This year was no different. He made a little jump in velocity and overall command of his pitches, which is shown by the fact he really hasn’t walked anybody.”

Miller’s production is a product of his offseason work. He has almost matched his strikeout total from his freshman season and is just 21 shy of last year’s tally. Miller has already thrown 37 innings, including nine scoreless against No. 3 DeWitt Central Monday.

“I’ve been trying to get stronger,” Miller said. “I’ve been trying to use plyometric balls and strengthening my shoulder, elbow and all that. It has helped me a lot to get to that 110 (pitch count) with my endurance, too.”

Miller has averaged more than 103 pitches in his five starts, going at least 6 1/3 innings in each of those games.

He made gains in the offseason, working with Cornell College pitching coach and former Solon assistant Scott Shulista and attending camps.

The focus was to drive and improve his lower-body technique. Miller’s fastball was clocked in the mid-80s in the winter.

“I feel like I was getting really tired in the fifth and sixth innings last year, but now I feel I can push through,” said Miller, who is batting .333 with a .418 on-base percentage and a team-high 14 RBIs. “I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting stronger as the game goes on. Once I get settled in the first inning, I feel my velocity goes up. I feel that has helped me as well.”

Opponents manage to hit just .128 against Miller, who has a 23-4 career mark and 1.20 ERA since his eighth-grade season. McSweeney said he’s matured and learned how to approach batters.

“The confidence that he can throw any of his four pitches for a strike is part of it, but he just has a presence out there,” McSweeney said. “He’s a very competitive and driven guy. Personality types like that, their level of play is a little different from everybody else’s.

“He’s not afraid of anybody. ... When we’ve faced some really good hitters in the box. He’s able to get in there and is confident in his abilities.”

Miller, an all-state quarterback as well, will have double-duty over the next few days. After Thursday’s doubleheader against Clear Creek Amana, Miller will leave Friday for football camps at North Dakota State and South Dakota State before Monday’s top-10 Wamac Conference tilt against No. 6 Marion.

Miller has received an offer to play baseball at SDSU, getting a chance to rejoin former Spartan teammate Luke Ira. He also has been offered a scholarship to play football at Northern Iowa.

“I really don’t know what I want to play right now,” Miller said. “I’m just going to see how this baseball season plays out and we’ll go from there.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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