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McNealy among the nation's best Division III hurlers

by: Zack Palmer, Pacific ace Miranda McNealy winds to deliver a pitch during Game 1 of Saturday’s Northwest Conference doubleheader against Pacific Lutheran.

Pacific softball coach Tim Hill had high expectations for freshman pitcher Miranda McNealy when the 2007 season started, but even Hill would have been hard-pressed to predict the level of success achieved by his flamethrowing phenom.

McNealy gave up one earned run over 14 innings last weekend in a pair of victories against Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound, lowering her season ERA to 0.89 - 10th best in the nation at the Division III level. Additionally, McNealy's current clip of 9.6 strikeouts per seven innings and .170 opponents' batting average are also among the best in the country.

'I thought she'd do real well for us, but I probably wouldn't have predicted what she's done so far,' Hill said.

McNealy has won 11 straight decisions since being saddled with losses in her first two starts of the season, both against current Northwest Conference leader Whitworth. McNealy had also tossed 33 consecutive scoreless innings before giving up a solitary run in the sixth inning of Saturday's game against Pacific Lutheran.

'I recruited her more than any kid I've recruited since I've been at Pacific,' Hill said. 'I was truly impressed when I went to see her. Most girls coming out of high school are throwers, but she was already a polished pitcher and I think that has a lot to do with how successful she's been.'

McNealy's skills will be put to the test in Pacific's final two series of the season. The Boxers travel to Linfield this weekend for four games against the No. 3 ranked Wildcats, then close out the regular season with four games against Willamette, currently in fourth place in the Northwest Conference.