Micaela Pohl: Defending home plate and country

Tyger Allen, Herald Reporter

Salve Regina University has the bases loaded and is looking to score again. With a ball batted into play, the force out is at home plate. The hit dribbles into the glove of the right fielder and Salve’s third base coach is waving two runners home. The first runner scores, and the second is close behind.

Junior catcher Micaela Pohl takes her place in the dirt right in front of home plate and stares down the throw as it comes in. The ball slaps her leather Mizuno mitt as she catches it and she throws her body to the left to tag the incoming runner. She lays down the tag, spins on her knee and presents the ball to the umpire, who punches the runner out.

Out of the third base coach box comes Seahawks Head Coach Jannelle Iaquinto. She approaches the home plate umpire to plead her case for an obstruction call against the catcher. Pohl overhears the conversation and smiles as she goes to take her place behind the five-sided plate, knowing that she just recorded an out. The umpire sticks with his call and Pohl has saves her team one run in a 14-0 loss.

“I knew it wasn’t obstruction,” Pohl said. “We actually [went over] it in practice a couple times, working on being in front of the plate, getting the ball, then taking that step back, finding where the runner is, and finding where the plate is. There’s no way I was blocking [the plate].”

Pohl is in her third season, and her first as a starter after backing up recently-graduated Mikaela Grosso. The Middleboro, Mass. native does a lot more than play catcher though — it is merely a hobby to her.  

Pohl is a Division III athlete, but goes to Roger Williams University for free — not because of her grades or her team-leading .351 batting average, though.

The United States Army pays for Pohl’s tuition in return for eight years of service. Every weekday, she does physical training from 6-7 a.m. with the rest of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program with new workouts every day. The training she does will prepare her for her life after graduation, wherever she may be.

As a junior, Pohl must work in a leadership position. Just last month she was a squad leader, where she would work all day receiving emails from higher-ranking officers and disseminating them to those below her.

“I want to do active duty,” Pohl said. “We have to compete for it, so I’m hoping to get military intelligence as my MOS.”

Pohl chose Roger Williams because of its Division III status in athletics. To her, softball is more about having fun and not worrying about playing professionally. Between ROTC and team workouts, Pohl has become one of the strongest athletes on the team with an arm that will make a runner rethink stealing a base on her.

Pohl, as described by senior teammate Haley Ledbetter is “A strong presence who is always there for her teammates. Someone who is always helping her teammates get better.”

In only 13 games this season, Pohl is just three hits away from tying her mark last year. She has also increased her batting average from .246 last season, helping the team immensely. Despite a tough 2-14 overall record for the Hawks this season, Pohl has emerged as one of the team’s leaders on the stat sheet and in the dugout.

“I love softball,” Pohl said. “I wish I could graduate and be a softball player, but the reality is that I’m going to graduate and be a soldier.”