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After being ‘just a little fish in a big pond,’ Corina Miller emerges as a sophomore for Aurora Central Catholic

H. Rick Bamman/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Sophomore right-hander Corina Miller is the youngster among Aurora Central Catholic’s three starting pitchers, but she’s plenty chill in the circle.

Relaxed and calm?

Without a doubt.

“She just controls her pitches well, locates the ball well and spins it well,” Chargers coach Mark Pasqualini said. “Start to start, she’s progressing and she’s maturing. Her mentality last year as a freshman was just a little fish in a big pond. Now, she’s developing that bulldog mentality where she wants the ball and her emotions are always in check.

“That’s what I like about putting her out there.”

There was plenty to like about Miller’s time Wednesday afternoon in far-from-perfect conditions at home as host ACC rolled past Trinity for an 11-1 GCAC White victory in five innings.

The temperature was 40 degrees with a strong wind blowing in from left field but ACC (6-1, 2-0) unleashed a 12-hit attack against the Blazers (1-3, 0-1).

It featured five triples — from junior catcher Sophia Delgado, junior third baseman Kate Gambro, senior second baseman Natalie Sanchez, sophomore shortstop Morgan Vaghy and sophomore backup catcher Grace Grunloh — as ACC won its fifth straight..

“I could not feel my hands the entire game,” Miller said. “It was really hard to keep my speed up, so I just tried to work at spinning the ball and hitting my spots.”

Miller spun a neat four-hitter with seven strikeouts. She didn’t walk a batter.

“It seems like she wasn’t throwing as hard as she normally does, but the spin pitches were working, especially the riseball, and that helped,” Pasqualini said. “She kept that riseball right at the top of the letters, and she had them chasing it all day long.”

This spring, Miller (2-1) has 20 strikeouts with just two walks in 17 innings.

“I thought she pitched the same as she normally does,” Delgado said of the cold. “She’s definitely gotten better since last year. She hits her spots almost every time. I really like catching her.”

That’s true of all the Charger starters, featuring junior right-hander Gambro and junior lefty Charlotte Brummel.

“I think they’re all pretty good,” Delgado said. “Corina hits her spots really well, so does Kate, and Charlotte has speed. Each of them help us equally.”

Delgado added a single and raised her batting average to .469.

“I try not to think about it and just try to be confident at the plate,” Delgado said of the conditions. “When I step in, I take a deep breath, look at the pitcher and say ‘yes, yes, yes’ if I think it’s a strike or ‘no’ when I think it’s a ball.

“I’m definitely more of a line-drive hitter. I feel like I started kind of rough this season but it’s getting better.”

ACC went 18-11 last season with no seniors on the roster. This spring, the Chargers have two seniors and continue to improve, according to Delgado.

Assistant coach Jason Lohrey said, “When you have 13 girls who are all pretty much interchangeable, it helps.”

Miller, who takes individual lessons from St. Charles-based Jill Waldron, settled in well last season. She struck out 70 in 60 innings and finished with a 7-3 record.

“I expect myself to do better than I did last year, keep my ERA lower overall to show progress,” said Miller, who played travel for the Chicago Cheetahs. “I pitched a lot in the summer and did a lot of lifting over the winter.

“Last season, I was probably hitting 55 mph, and now, I’ve made a slight jump. I’m probably hitting 57 to 59.”

Her assortment of pitches includes a change-up, curve, screwball and drop to go with the fastball and rise.

“Right now, my go-to pitch has been my rise and curve,” she said. “It depends on the day.”