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Miller headed in right direction toward adding to Ozark's rich tradition at catcher


Gannon Miller doesn’t think he could have asked for a better situation than to be an understudy the past two years under former Ozark catcher Cooper Buvid and Tigers coach Justin Sundlie.

Miller backed up Buvid the past two seasons, setting himself up to assume Ozark’s coveted catcher’s job this spring.

“It was great to be under (Buvid’s) wing and coach Sundlie's wing,” Miller said. “Ozark always breeds good catchers. That's one thing coach Sundlie takes pride in. I bought in and they taught me well.”

Sundlie is a former Ozark catcher himself, having moved from third base to behind the plate for his senior season in the early 2000s.

“Everybody loves to coach the position they played,” Sundlie said. “You have to be good all the way up the middle and it starts (at catcher).”

Ozark’s strong tradition behind the plate in recent years includes Chuck Hill, Carson Shaver and Buvid.

Miller’s start to this season has only heightened expectations for his future. He enjoyed a three-hit day in Ozark’s home-opening win versus Jefferson City Helias and banged out a pair of hits in the Tigers’ triumph at Kickapoo.

“Gannon is a very talented kid,” Sundlie said. “He can hit and receives very well. He's going to keep getting better.”

In regard to his hitting, Miller hopes to establish himself as a power hitter, as well as a contact hitter. He’s been pleased how he’s responded to being down in the count and having two strikes on him.

“Ozark has taught me, with a two-strike approach, to stay through the ball,” Miller said.

As for his work behind the plate, Miller relishes duels with would-be base-stealers.

“It's exciting. I love a challenge,” he said. “It’s always fun to throw people out. I've got a good (arm), I'm looking to use it.”

Sundlie appreciates how Miller accepts all responsibilities of being a catcher.

“He's a real student of the game,” Sundlie said. “He likes his pitchers and wants to get to know them. He wants to know how to call each one of them. He’s very hungry as far as wanting to learn more and get better and work hard. I'm very excited about having him around for a couple years.”