Meet Wolcott Tech softball star, Mikayla Doll.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
After playing softball for a dozen years, ever since she was young girl of six, Mikayla Doll emerged as a team leader and one of the best players for Wolcott Tech this year.
Doll, a resident of Torrington, came to Wolcott Tech her sophomore year after transferring from Torrington High School. She primarily played at the junior varsity level her junior year while participating in Tech’s Work Based Learning program. This year, she was graduated as the softball team’s starting varsity catcher and batted second.
“Mikayla is a very dedicated, hard working young woman,” said Tech head coach Jennifer Garzone. “She is very versatile in that not only can she physically play multiple positions, but she is also mentally one of the smartest players I have had in my program.”
Doll hit .217 this season with 14 hits, 12 runs batted in, 17 runs scored, 17 walks, an on base percentage of .408 and a fielding percentage of .955. One of her best days at the bat was during a game against Gilbert when she had a double and single, knocked in a run and scored twice. Tech won 12 games during the regular season and lost in the first round of the CIAC Class M state tournament.
“Mikayla developed a much better eye for the ball at the plate,” said Garzone on her player’s considerable overall improvement from junior to senior season. “She was very patient and selective with her pitches. Defensively, she was more aggressive with checking runners on base and being a vocal leader on the field.”
In addition to her physical skills, Doll became a great team leader for the Wildcats. “She absolutely is a team player,” said Garzone. “ Mikayla does not hesitate to help the younger players in our program, many who have never played softball before.”
Among the aspects of the game that Doll has worked hard to improve upon is her ability to “attack” pop fly balls behind the plate. “In a home game against Kaynor Tech, in the top of the seventh inning, they had runners on base, with two outs,” said Garzone. “A pop fly was hit and she grabbed it to end the game and secure the win.”
Doll, who also played soccer the last three years, recalled the play and took pleasure from it as perhaps her best moment of the past season. “It sticks out to me because the ball popped out of my glove and I juggled it but still ended up catching it with my bare hand. As for a career highlight, I wouldn't say there's one specific play that really sticks out, I'd say there are a few good plays I have every year but nothing that'd be a career highlight.”
Doll couldn’t put a finger on why she became so attracted to softball. “I can't really explain it. I just had a pull to the game and thoroughly enjoyed it. I believe that it could have been due to the fact that I looked up to my older brothers and admired them. They happened to be involved with baseball and my original plan was to play baseball after T-ball however, my mom convinced me otherwise so I tried it for a season and enjoyed it. Incidentally, her mother (Charlene) played softball when she was young and her father (Vin) helped coach a bit with local baseball teams. Admittedly, Doll wasn’t good at softball right away. “I'd like to say that I was good however, but I know I wasn't. I was okay at best. Like many things it just takes practice. The level I'm at currently is the level that years of practice and play has led me to.” And that’s what makes her a winner.
She continued, “Originally, I'd have to say that my brothers influenced me to play however, over the years it's transitioned so that my parents are now the ones influencing me to play. My mom inspired me because she talked about how she played when she was younger. Her commitment to the sport by saving up a bunch of green stamps in a stamp book to purchase her glove, also inspired me to work my hardest. My dad inspired me by always being there for his kids. He picked up softball coaching for my teams when I was younger, and in recent years becoming an umpire. My parents have also always tried their best to come to my games, and support me no matter what.”
As for players she most admires, Doll ironically not inspired by one special player or even college or professional players in general. “I'm inspired by players such as Carli Lloyd, Kelley O'Hara and Katie DeFeo (soccer and lacrosse stars). They are not softball players, but I’m inspired by them because, in my opinion, they represent what dedication, hard work, and perseverance looks like. I look at that and I try to bring the same characteristics to my game in softball.”
Doll enjoys all aspects of the game. “Both defensively and offensively there are great parts of the game. On the defensive side, I enjoy that feeling of making a difficult catch, such as snagging a line drive, or diving to stop a ball. On the offensive side I would have to say my favorite part is base running, and challenging the opposing catcher to throw down and try to get me out and in turn making me dive back to base.”
She added, “Even though I've played softball for about a decade there are still things I can work on. You can always go back to the fundamentals and work on those more. For me, I'd most likely have to work on getting more accurate long-range throws, and I can always work on hitting. I only struck out once this season, however, there were multiple times that I grounded the ball out to an infielder and was out at first.”
Although she would love to continue to play softball as she moves into college, she “worries that her play may not be up to the level that is needed to play sports on the collegiate level.” Her coach is more positive about her player’s future in the game “Mikayla has the ability to play at the next level,” offered her coach, perhaps at a Division II or III level.
Judging by the levels to which she has raised her game, no one is doubting that Mikayla Doll has the mental and physical tools to continue playing softball at a very high level.