By STEVE KRAH
Lane Miller’s final college baseball season is ending with him performing a different function than when he began.
Before the 2023 campaign at Indiana State University, Miller announced he would join the U.S. Marines after the season and apply for Officer Candidates School (OCS) in Quantico, Va. He has completed a Sport Management degree and Master of Business Administration (MBA) certification at ISU and is now working on a Sports Leadership minor.
“I talked to the coaches and my priority was going to be to get ready for that,” says Miller. “I was just going to be a leader on the team and help where I needed to help.”
He coached up his teammates, gathered statistics and contributed to scouting reports.”
Then came a need for him to pitch. He made starts March 28 against Purdue, April 2 against Illinois-Chicago, April 9 against Illinois State, April 16 against Belmont and — in an adjusted schedule — is slated to start again Monday, April 24 against Missouri Valley Conference foe Southern Illinois at Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute.
6-foot-4, 211-pound right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.95 earned run average. He has 16 strikeouts and eight walks in 27 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .196 against him.
With a 10-2 victory at No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 22 Indiana State ran its win streak to 11 (Illinois-Chicago two games, Indiana, Illinois State three games, Purdue, Belmont three games and Vandy).
It’s the second double-digit streak since Mitch Hannahs has been head coach. The Sycamores previously won 12 in a row in 2014.
Through April 19, Indiana State was No. 12 in the NCAA Division I RPI (Rating Percentage Index) rankings.
“Everybody is taking it game-by-game,” says Miler. “We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Coach Hannahs says, ‘anywhere anytime.’ That’s how it is in college baseball right now. Any team can beat anybody at anytime.”
Miller says the Sycamores are out to prove that they deserve the recognition.
“We just pick each other up on good days and bad days and keep moving forward,” says Miller.
Consistency is what Miller sees when he looks at Hannahs.
“It’s knowing that we’re going to get the same thing every day when we show up at the field. I know he has a high expectation not only for himself, but for his coaches and the team as a whole.
“His loyalty to us is second to none.”
Miller, who made 15 mound appearances (18 innings) 2020-22, works closest with Sycamores pitching coach Justin Hancock.
“He’s very determined,” says Miller of Hancock. “He knows what he wants out of the pitching staff and each player. He holds them to a high standard.
“His standard never falters on a daily basis.”
Miller throws a two-seam fastball, change-up and slider and has been working in a pitch that is a mix of slider and curve. Depending on the count or situation, he also change arm slots — over-the-top or sidearm.
Throwing from the side, his two-seamer moves left to right and slider right to left.
“I’ve done a good job of not doing one or the other (arm slot) too much,” says Miller. “I’m a very quick pitcher. I tend to work fast. With the 20-second pitch clock rule the faster I work the less time the hitter gets to think.
“It’s really worked to my benefit.”
Born in Evansville, Ind., to a military family, Miller spent early years in South Carolina and Idaho, and settled in Boonville, Ind., in his seventh grade year. He played most of his travel ball in middle school and high school with the Ironmen.
Lane is the son of Todd Miller and Summer (Hart) Williams. His father was in the military for more than 20 years, serving in the U.S. Navy and with the Special Forces. His mother played basketball at the University of Evansville. Sister Daleigh Miller is an Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis senior. Brother Caiden Miller is a Marine.
A 2017 graduate of Boonville High School, Miller was an all-Pocket Athletic Conference performer in football, basketball and baseball. On the diamond, his head coach was Cory Julian.
“He held me to a higher standard than he did anybody else,” says Miller of Julian. “He counted on me to be the leader of the team.”
Miller played multiple positions for the Pioneers in all three sports — wide receiver, quarterback, cornerback, punter and kicker in football, forward and center in basketball and first base, third base, shortstop outfield and pitcher in baseball.
Miller played with the Terre Haute Rex at the end of the summer of 2022. He was with the Local Legends of the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., in 2021. He did not play summer ball in 2020 — the year of limited opportunities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The righty was Pitcher of the Year with the Saugerties (N.Y.) Stallions of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League in 2019. He was with the Rex in 2018. He went to summer school at Indiana University in 2017.
Recruited by Chris Lemonis (who departed IU for Mississippi State), Miller left after the fall and transferred to ISU. He sat out the first year with the Sycamores and also underwent foot surgery as a freshman and had surgery on both hips in 2020.