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DLN ALL-AREA: Conestoga’s Miller carries Pioneers after tough offseason

(For the rest of our All-Area Baseball coverage, see our Coach of the Year story and our first team, second team and honorable mention lists)

When a baseball player is a natural leader and helps his team in many various ways, that player is the most important piece of a winning puzzle. This season the Conestoga Pioneers captured a share of the Central League championship with Marple Newtown and advanced to the first round of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs. These achievements were in no small part because of the efforts and intangibles senior captain Tim Miller brought to the diamond.

Miller was amazing for the Pioneers, as he batted .568 with an onbase percentage of .667 while he scored 19 runs and knocked in 14 RBIs. Miller banged out six doubles with three home runs, and while he was not terrorizing the rest of the Central League at the plate, he went 5-2 on the mound with both losses coming by 1-0 scores. Miller had an ERA of 2.02, and to top things off, had a 1,000 fielding percentage with no errors in 30 total chances. Those gaudy statistics helped secure Miller’s place as The Daily Local News’ All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

Miller did all those things under the tutalage of new coach Kevin Pechin, who took over for longtime Pioneers boss John Vogan two weeks before the Pioneers’ first game. Miller said the transition was seamless, although he spoke highly of the voice Vogan provided.

“It was a bit of an adjustment because Coach Vogan was my football coach for the last three years and my baseball coach for three years also,” Miller said. “Not hearing his voice was a little weird but we all knew coach Pechin. Coach Pechin is a little more vocal than coach Vogan and I think being a quarterback on the football team helped me be a little bit of a leader on the baseball field. We knew we were going to have a pretty good season because we had a lot of depth at the pitching department. It really all comes down to everybody doing their own job and taking things on themselves to do their part for the team.”

Pechin, who had been the Conestoga junior varsity coach for the last 12 years before he took over for Vogan this season, spoke glowingly of what Miller provided the Pioneers on and off the field.

“When you look at Tim’s statistics, they are hard to believe,” Pechin said. “He was a tremendous leader on the field and at practice and they young guys really benefited by seeing how Tim went about his work during games and at practice. He was a real asset for this team and is a special athlete and person. The things he does on and off the field for this program will be remembered for a long time.”

In the fall Miller will attend the University of Richmond on a baseball scholarship, where it will be a family affair for the the Pioneers leader.

“I chose Richmond because it is a beautiful campus and I loved the coaches down there,” Miller said. “and my grandfather played there and is in the Richmond Hall of Fame, so it is somewhat of a family connection and I feel there’s a chance to play early in my career. I really am excited about Richmond because it is a great school and a great baseball program.”

Coaches around the Central League and District 1 know what a player Miller is, with the  other Central League coaches consistently pitching around Miller and walking the Conestoga star intentionally.

“Miller is quite a player and he really makes Conestoga go,” said West Chester Henderson assistant coach Steve Fitch. “He is a great choice for player of the year.”

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