Nokomis' Mia Coots delivers a pitch in the 2021 Class B North softball title game at Coffin Field in Brewer against Winslow. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Mia Coots quit recreation league softball after the fourth grade, deciding that she had no interest in the sport. 

But that changed during the spring of her sixth grade year.

She was watching University of Florida All-American Kelly Barnhill pitch in a NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series game.

“I was watching her motion. It was one of the most mesmerizing things I had ever seen,” recalled Coots. “After that, I knew I wanted to pitch.”

She started pitching in November 2018, and now, just three and a half years later, the Nokomis Regional High School of Newport sophomore righthander is one of the best pitchers in the state.

As a freshman last season, Coots helped lead the third-seeded Warriors to a berth in the Class B North championship game. Highlighting her season was a two-hit gem with 11 strikeouts in a 7-0 semifinal win over No. 2 Ellsworth, which had scored 19 runs in its two previous playoff wins.

She is having an even better year this season as the Warriors are off to a 7-1 start.

She has pitched all eight games and has an earned-run average of 0.925. She has struck out 114 hitters in just 53 innings for an average of 2.15 strikeouts per inning. She has walked just 17.

In her only loss, she allowed one unearned run and struck out 15 in a 1-0 setback to Hermon on Tuesday.

“She’s a very good pitcher,” said Hermon junior shortstop Lyndsee Reed. “She has good movement on her ball and she is very consistent in the strike zone. She throws hard. Her change-up is very good. She keeps you off balance.”

Hermon freshman pitcher Katie Fowler, who tossed the shutout to beat Nokomis, said that Coots has “good speed and her spins work well, too.”

Fowler and Coots share the same pitching guru on Sundays: Husson University pitching coach Rick Roberts.

“I started working with Rick right before my eighth grade season,” Coots said. “In just a month, he increased my velocity by 5 mph. … He watched my pitching motion and figured out what would work best for me.”

Coots said one of Roberts’ other proteges, current Husson University ace right-hander McKenna Smith from Old Town, is one of her biggest idols.

Coots loves being in the circle.

“No other position makes me feel like pitching does,” she said. “As a pitcher, you get to be involved in everything. You are in every single play. When you play other positions, you get lost. And I love having the control, honestly.”

Coots also works out in the gym and it has paid off, according to Nokomis coach J.D. McLellan.

“She has gotten stronger. She has really stepped up the last few years. She has taken charge of herself by working out on her own. Nobody has had to force her to work out,” McLellan said.

Coots is just 5-foot-3 but she can fire her riseball 62 mph. She also has a drop curve, a curve, a changeup and a screwball.

“She hits her spots well,” said Hermon coach Steph Biberstein.

Coots said she is a much better pitcher this year than she was a year ago.

“I had a lot of nervous energy last year,” Coots said. “There was so much going on in my mind. I wanted to succeed. I wanted to be the best that I could be. I understand my role better this year. I understand my abilities. I’ve grown as a pitcher. I have more confidence.”

She has been happy with her season but adheres to Roberts’ philosophy of “being happy but never being satisfied.”

She would like to pitch in college but said she must continue to improve to reach that level.

“I have good movement on my pitches but it has to be great. Because I’m 5-foot-3, I’m never going to get the velocity up to 69 to 70 mph. I’m just being realistic. I have to have more movement and more spin on my pitches and I’m going to need a good change-up.”