DSU pitcher Michelle Duncan is 21-0, she has a season ERA of 1.27, she was named a finalist for the NFCA National Player of the Year, and she has led the Storm to a No. 1 West Regional ranking; it’s safe to say that softball is a huge part of her life.
“Softball really is my life,” Duncan said. “It’s who I am.”
Even with her busy schedule of being an athlete and a full-time student, Michelle still finds time for other activities. If she’s not on the field slinging 60 mph fast balls, you can find her cooking enchiladas and listening to the Zac Brown Band in her kitchen. She said St. George is perfect for some of her other hobbies.
“I love to hike and be outside with my friends, and Dixie is a great place for that,” Duncan said. “I think that comes from my parents. They were always doing everything outdoors, and when I was growing up, that’s just kind of what I did. I didn’t even have cable in my house as a kid.”
Besides hiking Angels Landing and Zion National Park, one of the outdoor activities she spoke of was, of course, softball. Her dad played baseball and influenced her to do so as well. Duncan grew up idolizing Jennie Finch, a University of Arizona pitcher in the early 2000s. Naturally, Duncan also wanted to be a pitcher, and she started as a young child.
“My dad has been my catcher for as long as I can remember,” Duncan said. “I can’t even make a guess on how many times I’ve thrown to him in my life.”
Although softball has always been her main focus, she participated in other sports as a youngster as well.
“I didn’t only play softball,” Duncan said. “My parents tried to get me to do gymnastics and rodeo when I was younger. I played volleyball and basketball in junior high, but I still always gravitated toward softball and decided that I had to focus on that in high school.”
Duncan said she didn’t ever realize her talents when she was younger, but other people clearly did. She started varsity as a pitcher in her freshman year at Gilbert High School, a 5A school in Arizona.
“Softball is huge there,” Duncan said. “There were a lot of teams we played that were stacked, and because of that, my team wasn’t always competitive.”
Although frustrating, Duncan said the stiff competition helped her mature as a player.
“It makes you want to win that much more,” Duncan said. “It forces you to get tougher and work harder.”
The hard work paid off as Duncan took her team to the state tournament all four years as a starting pitcher and earned all-region honors in three of those years.
After she graduated high school, Dixie State posed a great opportunity for Duncan to continue her education and softball career. The school’s dental hygiene program and successful softball team attracted her to St. George, along with the weather and the fact that it is so close to her hometown.
At DSU, Duncan has been wildly successful, playing a major roll on the team for the last four years. Assistant coach Doug Rogers spoke highly of her time at DSU.
“She is such a great person,” Rogers said. “Such a great player. Off the field she is so kind and so fun to be around and when she steps on the field, her game face is on. She has a level of focus that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in my many years of coaching.”
Currently in her senior season, she admits that she might be a little lost after softball comes to an end.
“It’s become such a huge part of my life that I really don’t know what I’m going to do when it’s over,” Duncan said.
Once she got to DSU, she found out that the dental hygiene program interfered with softball and subsequently changed her major to business administration. She will be graduating with that degree in the fall. She plans on pursuing a career with a large corporation but jokingly suggests that she’s just going to go into knitting.
Keep up with Duncan and the rest of the Storm softball team as they look to close out their season in the coming weeks, starting with a double-header against Azusa Pacific University Friday at 3 p.m.