ROTTERDAM — Mohonasen sophomore Matti Muller has pitched in a lot of softball games, but never in one quite like Thursday’s Colonial Council matchup with Schalmont.
As she prepared to face each batter, her dad Jeff Muller offered encouragement and guidance — but not to her.
Instead, he focused his attention on the Sabres stepping up to the plate to challenge her.
“Usually, my dad coaches me,” Matti Muller said. “It was weird seeing my dad over there.”
The “over there” was the third-base coaching box where Jeff Muller — Schalmont’s first-year head coach — spent the innings his daughter pitched.
“I tried to do my job, and focus on my team and have tunnel vision,” said Jeff Muller, who previously has coached players from both Mohonasen and Schalmont with the Rotterdam Reign travel team. “They’re a good team and they’re going to do what they’re going to do.”
So far this season, winning is all the Mighty Warriors have done. Matti Muller spun a four-hitter and drove in four runs with a pair of doubles as part of Thursday’s 13-1, mercy-rule shortened victory that left them 4-0.
“She knows I want to win. I know she wants to win,” Jeff Muller said. “We’re a competitive family, but in a good way.”
Before the game, neither daughter nor dad wanted to tip their hand.
“We didn’t talk too much before the game,” Matti Muller said. “We didn’t want to give each other info. I didn’t tell him much. He didn’t tell me much.”
Most of the Schalmont (1-2) players were already well aware of the younger Muller and her vast array of pitches that she also used Wednesday to shut down Ichabod Crane, the 2018 state Class B champion, in a 5-1 win.
“I didn’t tell them anything. They knew,” Jeff Muller said. “Most of them have seen her through travel. After the first inning, I told my team to let the next batter know what she’s throwing.”
Matti Muller had her curveball working early as she retired the first six batters she faced. Talia Hartman doubled leading off the Schalmont third, and Erin Mahar homered to start the fourth and break up Muller’s shutout bid.
“Screwball. Curveball. Riseball. Change-up,” Mohonasen coach Jeff Mattice said. “She has the whole package, and she moves the ball around.”
Matti Muller struck out five and walked one, and her teammates played flawless defense behind the 15-year-old right-handed pitcher.
“Our defense made a lot of plays,” Matti Muller said. “They’ve been good this year.”
Mohonasen had its offense going again, too, with Muller’s three-run double sparking a six-run, second-inning outburst, and Natalie Blackstone’s two-run double capping a five-run fourth as the Mighty Warriors opened up a 13-0 lead.
“The next time, they’ll want to do the same thing [to us that] we did to them,” Matti Muller said of the May 13 rematch between the teams. “We’ll just keep working.”
Blackstone finished with four hits and three RBI, and eight Mohonasen players accounted for 15 hits.
“We focus on winning the inning,” Matti Muller said. “When we have a good defensive inning we try to top it with a bunch of runs.”
Both Mullers were certain those big innings Mohonasen produced — and Matti Muller’s effective mound effort — would be a topic of conversation at Thursday’s dinner table.
“We’ll talk about it,” Jeff Muller said. “She has bragging rights.”
Mohonasen 161 50 — 13 15 0
Schalmont 000 10 — 1 4 1