JM’s Pierce at home on softball field

Sierra Pierce, a senior pitcher on the Jackson-Milton softball team, is known to be relaxed when she takes the mound.

Pierce, who signed her national letter of intent to attend the University of Maryland-Baltimore County this week, says that when she takes the mound, she feels most at home.

“I’ve just gotten stronger and started throwing harder (as I’ve gotten older),” Pierce said. “I’ve started to force a lot more groundouts and I realized not everything’s going to be a strikeout.”

Pierce started playing softball when she was 7, and while her mom, Connie, has been her personal coach, her interest in the game started with her brother. Sierra’s older brother, Scott, was a baseball player, which motivated Sierra to pursue softball.

Since then, Sierra and Connie have worked on improving the younger Pierce’s game, and thus far, the results have paid off.

“My mom used to be my personal catcher,” Sierra said. “It was cool having my mom do that, instead of my dad. She’s always been there to cheer me on.”

The former Austintown Fitch student transferred to nearby Jackson-Milton last November, and she instantly began producing for the Blue Jays. In her first seven games (after sitting out 13 games due to transfer rules), Pierce set a state record for consecutive games with a home run, hitting one in each of those seven contests.

Consequently, the Blue Jays, who were 12-13 last year, won all seven of those games. While Blue Jays coach Kelly Abe tried to hide Pierce in her lineup, opposing teams soon became all-too-familiar with Pierce, who batted .560 last season.

“The word was out on her by season’s end,” Abe said, laughing. “We played a tournament game against Lisbon, and in her first at-bat, the Lisbon coach decided to pitch to her. After that, he knew better, and she was walked the rest of the game.”

Pierce, however, is best known for her pitching exploits. According to Abe, Pierce is a lead by example-type of player, who displays a great fastball, to go along with her curveball and changeup.

Abe believes that Pierce’s senior campaign should be even stronger than her junior year, as she’ll have a full offseason with her Blue Jay teammates.

“I expect her to pick up from last year, from where she left off,” Abe said. “I expect 10 or more homers and I expect 10-12 strikeouts per game from her.”

As for Pierce, she feels that a senior-laden Jackson-Milton team should have a great chance at winning a district title next year, and of course, she’ll be called upon frequently to make that happen.

But once her high school career ends, she’ll be taking her talents to Maryland, despite interest from numerous local schools in Ohio and West Virginia.

“I really love the campus and location,” Pierce explained. “I like the coaches a lot and I’m looking towards studying visual arts.”

Whatever this coming high school season, and subsequent future seasons in college with the Golden Retrievers brings, one thing is for certain. Pierce will always feel at home when she steps onto that diamond.