Mikie Lieving of Wahama High School struggled at first.
The West Virginia Sports Writers Association named the ex-White Falcon and Ohio University signee softball player of the year after years of hard effort.
“Very grateful, but I was shocked,” Lieving said when first-year WHS head coach Wes Riffle announced her prize earlier this week. Since childhood, our group of females believed we would be good in high school. Since I assume we all played trip ball. Hannah Rose (All-American and two-time Mountain East Conference POY) was unavailable my freshman year.
She performs at Charleston, which was sad. We didn’t anticipate to win the following two after capturing the Class A state title in 2021. We expected to work hard and do it again. It’s awesome, and I’m grateful to have participated.”
Lieving credits her teammates, including Radford University-bound catcher Amber Wolfe, who was a three-time all-state first team selection like Lieving.
Lieving, who was 21-4 with a 0.68 ERA and 259 strikeouts in 155 innings while hitting.596 with 10 doubles, four triples, a state record 23 home runs, 62 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. They improve me. I’m grateful to represent the state and softball.”
Success took time.
Lieving said she wasn’t always good. We batted eight and nine in right field because we couldn’t hit.
I remember those days, but I suppose they brought us here. I thought about doing this in college around 14U or 12U.
Coach Riffle called Lieving a basketball gym rat.
“She lives, eats, and breathes this game,” he remarked. “She does all the proper strength and conditioning, which I think she’s a natural talent, but I think her strength and conditioning has really helped her, and being with a travel program. Tim Fouts taught her pitching.
“He’s worked with a lot of the state’s top talent. However, Mikie’s success on the field, plate, and mound is obvious. Her off-field job is unseen. She lives the game.”
Wolfe, who has played with Lieving since age 8, knows how remarkable it was to win three consecutive Class A state titles.
Wolfe remarked, “We’ve had incredible careers and to have it with her, she’s my best friend, I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. This squad. The previous three years of Wahama softball girls have been unique.
Coach Riffle said “getting the right people to kind of get her on the right path” was crucial for Lieving. Her parents have taken her to trip ball games across.
“She played and saw the best. Her effort. She pitches in her basement. She’s hard-working. It’s incredible.”
Lieving played travel ball with the Birmingham Thunderbolts before joining Team North Carolina Hinde for her last summer.
Fouts taught her to pitch at 9 and still consults him.
“Definitely was a very important figure in my life,” Lieving said when asked to rate the three state crowns: “the first one was definitely just special for a lot of reasons. We were 27-0. It was our high school’s first girls state title.
“The second time was really special, too, because we kind of knew deep down it was coach Chris (Noble)’s last game. Uniquely exceptional. It was heartbreaking, but we won. Seniors discussed that. We should win. We suffered enough. Different causes make them special.”
W&W Sports Digest sponsors the Softball Player of the Year Award.