It never seemed to be a question of if Emily Mikkola would play at the next level. All that people wondered was which sport she would choose in college.
Mikkola made her decision Thursday, signing with Tennessee Wesleyan University to continue her softball career. She signed on the dotted line in front of family, friends and teammates from three sports.
The Warren County senior has excelled for years in softball, basketball and volleyball. She has been a multiyear starter on each team and garnered all-district accolades in each sport.
- Warren County coach Gooby Martin has watched Mikkola develop over the years, starting with his time at WCMS. It wasn’t a surprise to Martin to see her signing.
“Emily did it the hard way. She played three sports her whole career,” said Martin. “I’m proud of Emily. It’s been great to see her grow. She’s a tremendous player and tremendous athlete.”
Leah Thompson was over the recruiting of Mikkola. The current TWU assistant spent the last three years at Rhea County, seeing firsthand from an opposing dugout what the Lady Pioneer can do.
“I watched her for three years. I was pumped to know she was excited about our school,” said Thompson.
Maybe if Mikkola had grown to be 5-foot-11 instead of 5-foot-5, her signing Thursday may have been in a different sport. But Mikkola loves softball, and has since she was very young.
“I started playing when I was 3. I definitely grew into softball because I played everything when I grew up,” said Mikkola. “Around coach-pitch, I got a lot of ‘good games’ and people telling me how good I was. I didn’t want to believe it, but I started seeing results and thought maybe it’s what I needed to do.”
Mikkola has been a star ever since.
She was named the District 6AAA infielder of the year last season, when Warren County won the district tournament title. She was just as good at the plate, finishing the season with a .452 batting average.
She’s hopeful she’ll do the same at the next level, at a place that felt like home instantly.
“When I went there, I got to walk around with the girls. They were nice to me and they loved me and I loved them,” said Mikkola, who also was happy to know the school offered a physical therapy program, her ideal career path. “The campus is small and I fell in love it.”
With signing day behind her, Mikkola is ready to win more as a Lady Pioneer.
"I want to go further than we have before."
Editors note: More Mikkola information with online story.
More from Q&A with Lady Pioneer senior shortstop Emily Mikkola
Q: What are some of the memories that stand out to you on the field?
A: Always winning against Cookeville - all the wins against Cookeville are pretty good moments (Editor note: the Lady Pioneers clinched the 2017 district title with 20-3 win at Cookeville and won the 2018 district tournament 17-2 over Cookeville).
I always laugh at the fact that one day at practice, we were doing pop fly drills. They would hit sky balls.
One day we hit one and Gooby was looking for it but couldn't find it. He tripped over a hole in the outfield and just faceplanted. It was a pretty good time.
Q: In the last two years, the team has won district titles. What is the goals going into your senior year?
A: Definitely going to try to go further than we have before. I'm just going to do what I know I can do and hopefully we can go far and reach state.