Millikan Softball

Katie Knarr A Smashing Success For Millikan Softball

The562’s high school softball coverage is sponsored by Playmakers. Visit LetsBePlaymakers.org for more information on their adaptive sports programs.

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2023-24 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

There was a time in her life when Millikan softball star Katie Knarr didn’t even care about sports. 

The Long Beach native grew up loving arts and crafts while participating in dance and other typical activities for young girls.

Then one day while perusing YouTube, Knarr accidentally came across a hype video for a college softball team. The short edited clip had dramatic cuts and intense music while showing the players pitch, hit and play defense. She was only 8 at the time, but Knarr was hooked.

A month later Knarr was playing softball at Heartwell Park. Three years later she was playing for one of the best travel softball clubs around. And now Knarr is a senior first baseman at Millikan where she’s one of the most successful softball players in Moore League history.

Knarr has been a starter at Millikan for the last four years while the Rams have had historic success. Through Tuesday, Millikan is a combined 76-36 overall and 40-3 in the league while Knarr has been a first baseman. The Rams also won three league titles and reached a CIF championship game last season.

“We all have really good work ethic,” Knarr said of her teammates. “But I’m not playing to think about the wins and losses. I’m really enjoying the moment.”

Staying in the moment has also helped Knarr perform her best. In the last three years (70 games), Knarr has hit .383 with a .471 on base percentage to go with 48 RBI, 46 runs scored and 10 home runs.

Knarr is going to play softball at Rhode Island next year, but first we caught up with her over Spring Break to talk about her softball career.

QUESTION: What did you like about softball when you started playing at Heartwell?

ANSWER: I think it was being able to compete against my friends and then be friends off the field. I think that really carried into high school because I’m friends with a lot of the girls outside of softball so being able to play against them makes it so much more fun. It’s kind of like being comfortable, playing wiffle ball in your backyard. Just with a little more people and a little bit more serious. (In a recent game against Lakewood) my friend Maddie got on base and I gave her the biggest hug when she got to first base. It’s just being able to share those big moments with people that you care about.

Q: What came naturally when you started playing?

A: Nothing came naturally in softball. I was actually super unathletic when I was little. It was really frustrating but me and my dad would practice every day. Even on holidays, before games, after games, we trained every day and we still do.

Q: When did things click for you?

A: I was with (USA Athletics travel softball 13-14yo team) and we were in Arizona for a tournament. (Currently Millikan assistant coach Mike Mathis) was my coach and he had pulled everyone from a game when we weren’t playing well. I was so mad. So after that I hit five home runs that weekend. I think that weekend changed my whole career because I had a different confidence.

Q: Even when you started as a freshman at Millikan you’ve shown an incredible awareness of the strike zone, so what is your approach at the plate?

A: I’m more of a reactionary hitter. I just kind of go in with a blank mindset and just go with what she’s throwing. I don’t usually try to get deep into the count, I just try to breathe and keep everything simple and be in the moment. I just try to block out all of the noise and just focus on what the game of softball is. Just hit the ball. If it’s an out it’s an out. If it’s a hit it’s a hit. You can’t control results.

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.