Joy of playing
Being on the softball field a joy for Mesa's Maihi
Courtney Maihi came to the United States for a chance to get an American college education.
It was difficult at first, but the New Zealand native has found a home away from home at Colorado Mesa University.
She’s getting more than an education — the junior has become one of the softball team’s best players.
Maihi is hitting .424 and leads the nation in RBI per game with 1.73 (38 RBI in 22 games). She is 8-6 with a 4.66 ERA in 14 starts in the pitching circle.
“She had to figure that out or redefine that as a competitive pitcher,” CMU coach Kris Mort said. “I think she’s finding that. She seems to have more and more tenacity. She seems to get a little bit more locked in to competing as opposed to just loving being on the diamond again.
“If we can get her in the top 10 in the nation in pitching, we might win a national championship.”
The Mavericks (14-10, 12-8 RMAC) host first-year program Colorado Christian (17-12, 13-3 RMAC) in doubleheaders at noon Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday at Bergman Field.
Maihi, who played on New Zealand’s junior and senior national teams, found Mesa through a Front Range summer club team she played on while in high school.
She missed three months of school in high school to play on the club team, but she still had school work to do.
“She originally came to the United States through a connection with Triple Crown Sports in Fort Collins,” Mort said. “Dave King, the owner, had a connection with the New Zealand national team. She came over as a youth with aspirations to come to the United States to go to a university.”
She received a scholarship offer to the University of Northern Colorado and played there for one year. She returned home to New Zealand for a semester, then King contacted Mort. She came to Mesa in the fall of 2010, but had to redshirt last year to regain NCAA eligibility status.
“I love it here,” Maihi said. “It was a stroke of pure luck I ended up here, I think.”
Still, it’s tough being so far away from home at times.
“Right now, I’m so busy, it’s not so bad,” Maihi said. “Fall is always a difficult time, the family events I miss. All the birthdays are in that half of the year.”
She hasn’t been home in two years.
“She’s very mature,” Mort said. “She’s a little bit older, but she’s so mature because she hasn’t seen her mom since she’s been here. That tends to mature you. She does a good job. She has that older-sister role.”
Maihi has become comfortable around her teammates and often has fun in the pitching circle.
“I’m just a positive person,” Maihi said. “I love smiling. I’ve been told not to smile on the mound. I’ve been told by some New Zealand coaches not to smile, but when I’m enjoying myself I can’t help it. That’s the way I express my love for being a softball player.”
Her laid-back, easy-going personality, though, can be a conflict at times.
“That’s probably my biggest problem, I have to dig deep to find that competitive I-want-to-beat-you (mentality),” Maihi said.
“That’s probably been my problem to find it. I have to dig a little deeper to find it than other days. At the end of the day, it’s about wanting it, really. If you want to win, you find a way.”
Mesa catcher Megan Smith said Maihi clearly wants to win.
“Sometimes I can’t even tell what kind of mood she’s in, to be honest,” Smith said. “I give her a look and she gives me a look, so sometimes I don’t even know if we’re on the same page. She’s a different kind of person.
“When she’s angry, she’s angry. When she’s in pain, she’s even more angry. She feeds off that and her pitching.”