Jackson Miller and Mason Miller are used to the question: Are you guys brothers?
It’s easy to see why. Both are juniors on Mitchell High’s baseball team. Both are power pitchers who have above-average fastballs. Both can hit the cover off the ball in the middle of the Mustangs’ lineup.
But, no, they are not related.
“We were going to tell people on April Fools’ Day that we were related,” Jackson Miller said. “We knew each other in middle school and we played on the same travel team.”
Fortunately for Mitchell, they are also on the same high school team.
The Mustangs, thanks in no small part to the Millers, entered the week 18-0. They won the Farm Bureau Classic in Hernando County over spring break with a 7-5 win over Springstead in the final.
They also have an impressive win over Bishop McLaughlin and two wins in one week against district rival Northeast. Last Wednesday, Mitchell defeated Land O’ Lakes 2-1. Jackson Miller (6-0, 0.74 ERA, 44 strikeouts) started that game and had an RBI. Mason Miller, a hard throwing left-hander, got the save.
“We are blessed to have those two,” coach Howard Chittum said. “The pitching staff we have is a strength. It’s pretty simple. They throw strikes. We continue to play good defense and get timely hitting.”
To be sure, the Mustangs’ success is not just because of the Millers.
Shortstop Anderson Adler and second baseman Zach Crawford are solid fielders up the middle.
Rightfielder Kyle Murphy is hitting .364 mainly in the cleanup spot. And centerfielder Jay King is hitting .346 with four doubles.
Mason Miller showed his versatility two weeks ago when he hit a two-out grand slam to beat district foe Osceola.
“We’re hitting as a team,” Mason Miller said. “It takes teamwork to get there.”
Aside from the Millers on the mound, Adam Bingham is 4-0 and has 29 strikeouts in 27 innings. Freshman Ashton Crowther is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 12 innings pitched.
As a team, Mitchell has a 1.04 ERA.
“Pitching and defense is what we lean on the most,” Jackson Miller said. “The situational hitting is what has picked us up.”
Mitchell has been good for several years. Last season the team won 23 games and advanced to the Class 7A region final before losing to state power Venice.
This season the Mustangs are off to an even better start. There are only seven games remaining in the next three weeks. The biggest of which is the season finale at Calvary Christian. That game came together late in the scheduling process when Mitchell had a team drop out and Calvary had an opening.
“We had a great season last year but I think we’ve played even better this season,” Chittum said. “We’ve found a way to win games.”
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Jackson Miller has been on the varsity since his freshman year. The Wake Forest commit has been a contributor since the day he stepped on the field. So much so that he has opposition coaches wondering when he’s going to graduate.
“I asked Jackson, ‘Aren’t you graduated yet?’” Land O’ Lakes coach Calvin Baisley said. “Seems like you’ve been there forever. You been here for like 12 years.”
Jackson Miller said there isn’t much difference between this year’s team and last year.
“It’s not really a talent thing, it’s more of how we have blended together,” he said. “We had a lot of talent last year that we had to replace. The talent is the same, but the chemistry has kind of set us apart.”