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Obenrader is dialed in for final year at Saegertown while preparing for D1 softball career

Mar. 20—Mikaila Obenrader accomplished more in three seasons than most high school pitchers accomplish in an entire career. And she still has one more season to go.

The Saegertown senior has a laundry list of accolades to her name. She's turned all of her success into a Division I softball scholarship to Canisius University.

She didn't even pickup the sport until her 10th birthday, but quickly fell in love with it. Obenrader played volleyball, soccer, karate, dance and gymnastics before finding softball, thanks to her father, Jayme Obenrader.

"He's been a baseball coach and he's played softball and loved the sport," Obenrader said. "He wanted his daughters to get into the sport as well. I think I fell in love with it right away."

Obenrader stuck with softball year-round. She played travel softball, where she made great memories, and started to hone her skills in the circle.

"My favorite memories are the hotel stays with my teammates and my first grand slam at a tournament," Obenrader said. "Seeing new areas also. Whenever I play travel ball we travel a lot. Virginia Beach, Columbus, Cleveland, it's fun to see different cities and areas."

All of the time in the circle prepared her to start as a freshman for the Saegertown Panthers. She was immediately an ace.

"It was no surprise coming into the program as a first-year head coach that Mikaila was going to be a difference maker for our team or any other team she is a part of. She has always worked hard on the small things when it comes to her pitching mechanics, especially with the time she puts in outside of practice throughout the season," Saegertown head coach Jennifer Krider said. "Immediately it was evident that she had the talent, focus, emotional control and ability to command the zone consistently to create favorable outcomes that would take her to the next level."

Obenrader posted a 12-5 record with 188 strikeouts and a 1.03 earned run average in her first season. The Panthers finished 12-5 and lost in the District 10 title game. Obenrader credits her vast amount of playing experience pre-varsity for the seamless transition to starting high school pitcher.

"Each game is kind of the same for me whether it is high school, travel, little league or all-stars. I don't really get under pressure too often," Obenrader said. "I think it was time that solved that and the more I played."

In her sophomore season, Obenrader led the team to a D-10 championship and a berth in the state quarterfinals. She tallied 241 strikeouts and allowed 21 earned runs in 125 innings pitched. She was named the Region 2 Pitcher of the Year and was selected to the all-state team.

Last year, Obenrader struck out 188 batters, bringing her career total to 621 strikeouts. She's allowed 47 earned runs across 313 innings. In the batters box, she has nine home runs, six triples, 73 hits and 31 runs scored.

"It's great to see her fulfill her dream of making it to the D-I level. We are overly proud of her as a team and community," Krider said. "Since I met her, she has had this goal set for herself, and four years later, we are watching it come to fruition. We can't wait to continue watching her grow at the next level and will be here cheering her on as she goes."

After the season, Obenrader's college recruitment kicked off, though she's had the dream of Division I softball for a long time.

"Once I started falling more in love with the sport I knew I wanted to play college softball. Once I started to get better and I realized I could be a college athlete," Obenrader said. "It was when I was 12 or 13. I always wanted to play D-I softball."

Obenrader's travel ball coach, Maureen Wolfe, helped her make a connection to Canisius. It sparked an official visit and eventually an official offer.

"We can't necessarily talk to coaches and they can't reach out to us until the summer after our junior year. Obviously it's hard to get the attention of coaches because they get thousands of emails and tapes so it helps to know somebody. She (Wolfe) knew the Canisius coach and she reached out to him and said 'This pitcher is interested in playing here you should come watch her.' They came and saw me and it went from there."

Obenrader cited Canisius' distance to home, its biology program, the facilities, and proximity to downtown Buffalo as reasons for choosing the Golden Griffins.

"When I got that phone call and she said they wanted to offer me a full ride it was a rush of adrenaline," Obenrader said. "It felt really good and instantly put a smile on my face because I finally did it, that was my dream."

The Saegertown senior has a collegiate career ahead of her, but she is still focused on the task at hand — her final year as a Panther. She wants to win states and help new players transition to the highs school level, as well as improve her pitching mechanics, pitch locations and add new pitches to her repertoire.

"For how much I'm looking ahead to college, I don't see high school and college as two different things. I see this high school season as the next step in preparation to college, as it is all part of the same process," Obenrader said. "Every step I'm taking in a step to being that Division 1 athlete and making that transition from high school."

Obenrader thanks coaches Kayla Mayhem, Brianna Skelton, Greg Evans and Lou Williams, as well as her parents and grandparents, for helping her achieve her dream of playing softball at the next level.

"My parents and grandparents support me every step of the way," Obenrader said. "They encouraged me to do things like stretch, ice my arm, try as hard as I can and always stay positive."

Saegertown's season is scheduled to start on March 26 in a road game at Youngsville. The Panthers first home game is March 28 versus Conneaut.

Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at atopor@meadvilletribune.com.