Never, ever, tell a kid she’s too small.
Then again, it’s sure done wonders for Kara Murr.
The Heritage High School senior became the first player in the history of the program to sign with a Division I college when the pitcher/second baseman signed a National Letter of Intent with Tennessee State University last week.
The 5-foot-4 Lady Mountaineer led Heritage in hitting each of her four seasons, finishing with a .441 career average — batting out of the clean up spot. Her fielding was flawless, with Murr committing only five errors in four seasons, two of them coming this spring as she battled injury. In the circle, she compiled a career 0.71 earned run average.
Not bad for a player who’s always been told she’s too short.
“I’ve always heard it from everybody,” Murr said. “I would get up to bat, and the (opposing) coaches would say, ‘Scoot in; she’s little.’
“I never let it bother me because I knew I could play.”
Heritage coach Mark Dowlen never had any doubts.
“It was a joy, a blessing to have an athlete like Kara Murr,” he said.
The Lady Mountaineer ace is a softball player of stunning fitness. She relishes the opportunity to raise her sleeve to display her hard-won biceps. Described by Dowlen as “tough as nails,” Murr pitched two innings this season after suffering two broken ribs on a line drive back to the pitching circle.
Dowlen smiles when he thinks of opponents who’ve underestimated Murr because of her size over the years.
“That’s so deceiving once you see her play,” he said.
It’s no accident how Murr got that away.
She was first introduced to the game at age 5, following her father, Tony, to rec league games. When she got old enough to begin accompanying him to the batting cages, she never wanted to leave, Tony said.
“She’d say, ‘No. I need to stay and get this fixed,’” he said.
As Kara began to show promise, her mom, Misty, joined in.
“My wife is probably the biggest reason Kara has become what she has,” Tony said.
That, Misty said, only came about after Kara’s first love fell by the wayside.
“She started in ballet,” Misty said, “and we have the pictures to prove it.”
The dancer turned slugger was a force by middle school. Some of the records she established at Eagleton Middle School still stand. When she reached high school, Dowlen immediately slotted Murr into the cleanup spot, where she remained all four seasons.
“I just loved to practice and I just love to get better,” Kara said.
It was proud moment watching her daughter realize a dream, Misty Murr said. It was even more gratifying realizing Kara the softball player never replaced Kara the child they raised.
For all the prowess Kara displayed on the softball diamond, she always had a ready smile when she left it.
“When she steps off the field, the game is over,” Tony Murr said. “She’s Kara.”
“It was amazing to me to see her hitting and her fielding skills and also how caring she was,” Misty said.
All which, Dowlen said, is no act.
“Sometimes you get those athletes that carry that fire with them walking around all day,” he said. “She (Murr) is as sweet as they come.”
Actually putting pen to paper was a real jolt, Murr said.
“It was very surreal,” she said. “Actually, I didn’t realize what I was going on until I read the papers and signed them.”
Murr’s signature on that dotted line made Heritage High School history.