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Mitman provided leadership, made sacrifices

Senior earns second All-Suburban selection

Homestead's Siena Mitman slides into second base this season against Brookfield Central.

Homestead's Siena Mitman slides into second base this season against Brookfield Central. Photo By Peter Zuzga

July 5, 2011

Mequon - Homestead NOW All-Suburban outfielder Siena Mitman knows about sacrifice both small and a bit more expansive.

On the smaller end, there was her strong leadership move that said "Yes" when coach Dave Keel asked the 2010 All-Suburban outfielder to move to first base to help stabilize a graduation-decimated infield.

And on the larger scale, there was the time she recently spent with her church, Crossroads Presbyterian of Mequon, in New York City working with the poor at food banks and clothing drives.

"It was a mission trip, and it was an incredible experience," Mitman said. "It really put things in perspective for all of us (who went)."

That perspective made the position adjustment she made for the Highlanders earlier this spring look a lot easier in comparison.

At the time, the Highlanders, fresh off their WIAA state finals appearance, were looking to rebuild their all-star laden infield of a year ago and so Keel looked to Mitman for help. Mitman was one of just a few key returnees for the Highlanders including pitcher Rachel Behnken and catcher Amy Keel.

"It was a big step when coach asked me (to go to first base)," said Mitman. "I'd done a little infield in middle school and rec. leagues, but I've been in the outfield since the start of high school."

Her coach had no doubt that she could make the adjustment.

"She handled it unbelievably well," said Dave Keel. "She had to anchor a whole new group of people on the infield. She practiced at it a lot and she's such a good athlete (she was the team MVP in basketball over the winter). I thought she had no issue at all."

Mitman was grateful for her coach's confidence but noted it was not as simple as he made it look.

"At the beginning it was tough, especially with all the new people involved," Mitman said. "Still, I was honored that coach had faith in my abilities. I practiced a lot and he was patient."

Mitman was used to being able to wait on a ball a bit that was hit to the outfield. But that luxury was gone when she adopted one of the busiest positions in the game.

"There's a huge amount of difference when you're playing first or third," she said. "In the outfield, you're used to being able to wait on the ball a little, but at first base, you have to be so quick. And I had to change the way I threw the ball too. In the outfield, it's a longer throw, but once I got on the infield, I had to shorten up my motion a lot.

"I tell you, those short hops come up on you pretty quick."

"She handled high throws so well," said coach Keel. "And she got a lot of them."

So, as she and the team adapted, there were both frustrations and compensations. There were the two regular season losses to rival Germantown that cost them a repeat North Shore Conference championship, but then the Highlanders were able to edge the Warhawks in the WIAA sectional final.

That victory allowed Homestead to earn its fifth state trip in six years. Mitman said that the work that she, Amy Keel and Behnken were able to do with the new kids really paid off in the end.

"So many new players stepped up, especially on the offensive end where we really needed the help," Mitman said. "People just did the job in ways we didn't expect."

Coach Keel added, "The leadership that she and Amy (Keel) displayed meant everything to this team. It was the reason we made it back (to state)."

But for Mitman, the experience goes beyond just softball.

"Amy and I have been best friends for a long time," Mitman said. "And this season meant a lot to us because softball means so much to us. …Everyone helped this season."

Mitman is currently working with former teammate Emily Martin coaching the summer league high school level team and is also coaching in the Homestead Basketball Club.

In the fall, she will take on a new challenge, as she prepares to head off to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. She intends to major in biology with minors in Spanish and marine biology. The school is only 10 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. She will try out for the Division III women's basketball team at the school.

"I'm really looking forward to all of it," Mitman said. "It should be a lot of fun."

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