(New Buffalo, MI) - A flame throwing girls’ softball pitcher at New Buffalo High School wants to break her older sister’s records for strikeouts at the school.
Ava Mullen seems to have a real chance. Her blazing fastball and four other pitches in her repertoire give hitters little chance of making contact and she’s only a sophomore. Mullen said she learned how to pitch from her older sister, Maggie, who graduated in 2014.
Maggie Mullen holds Bison records for 750 career strikeouts, 250 strikeouts in a season and striking out 20 of 21 batters in the single game. “I always learned from her and got my techniques from her and I think that made me a better pitcher and inspired me to be a better pitcher,” Mullen said. It also doesn’t hurt to have a steady glove behind the plate.
Kaitlyn Jones, who’s also a sophomore, had no time to waste in learning how to catch Mullen. She knelt behind the plate for the very first time after nobody else on the team wanted to give it a try. “Terrifying,” is how she described catching Mullen.
Jones, who had an interest in being a catcher in previous seasons, appears to thrive on being in the thick of the action, though. Her style is much like the lunch pail approach of a construction worker reporting for a day’s work. “I enjoy catching for her. It’s fun. It’s very interesting with all of the different pitches that she’s got,” she said.
Jones said she quickly learned her reaction time is what she had to work on the most because of how quickly she has to slap leather on the ball. “I think she does a really good job especially since it’s her first time catching,” Mullen said.
Mullen was six-years old when she began pitching. She threw harder than all of the other girls her age and still draws looks of fear in the faces of opposing batters. Mullen also throws a rise ball, drop curve, screwball and change up. She sharpens her pitching skills during twice week sessions with the same professional coach used by her sister.
Maggie Mullen went on to pitch at Northwood University at Midland. Head Coach Jason Haskins said missing last season cancelled by COVID-19 hurts her chances of breaking her sister’s career strikeout mark. He’s not ruling it out, though, because of how she dominates opposing hitters.
Her fastball clocked as high as 65 miles per hour from 43 feet to the plate is equivalent to a 90 mile per hour fastball coming in at 60 feet, six inches from the mound in baseball. “She’s college level talent,” Haskins said.