Her mother’s support and a firm belief in herself have always been the driving forces in the development of recent Malden High grad Kiara Amos into one of the most dominant softball pitchers in the state.
Her father, Danny Harris, died in a car crash when she was 3, but Amos has always had her mother, Candy , beside her to guide her to a positive life. After signing up Kiara for softball at the age of 6, Candy Amos quickly noticed a real talent, and helped her daughter thrive.
“A lot of kids need a goal. At a young age I saw her talent in softball,” said the elder Amos, who at 41 has been known to don catcher’s gear to help her daughter practice.
“I wanted to show her that there are things out there for young girls to do. You know, basically a lot of times you only hear about things for young boys in sports.”
A probate accountant at Thompson Reuters in Boston, Candy Amos offers this advice to single mothers: “It may seem rough at times, but just try, try, try. It is possible, because we are living proof.”
Her daughter, a four-year starting pitcher at Malden High, hurled the Golden Tornadoes to the state final against Milford in June, and was the Globe’s Division 1 Player of the Year, and the Greater Boston League’s MVP.
Malden lost a 1-0 heartbreaker in the bottom of the ninth inning to Milford and ace Shannon Smith (22 strikeouts), but the Providence College-bound Amos called her senior year “her best season so far.”
The hard-throwing righthander finished her magnificent high school career with 75 wins, 923 strikeouts, and seven no-hitters, with a 1.02 earned run average.
The last three summers, Amos has pitched for Raiders Softball, a 23-and-under fast-pitch program based in Concord under the direction of founder Lisa McGloin, also the head coach at Concord-Carlisle High School. The last two years, Amos has suited up for the U-18 squad.
A four-year starting catcher for the University of North Carolina and three-time American Softball Association All-American, McGloin has been a big influence on Amos.
McGloin “pushes us hard and it’s for the better. I know if I wasn’t pushed as hard as she pushed me, I wouldn’t be the player I am today,” said Amos, who believes that McGloin’s experience working with pitchers has given her a step up. “She’s kind of a mentor.”
But the most important figure in her life has been her mother.
For years, Candy Amos has taken her daughter to training facilities and softball clinics in the region, and has also been a coach off the field. She often catches for her daughter in their backyard, and attends the majority of her games.
“Her mom comes to almost all of the games. Not many parents do that,” said a Raiders teammate, Sheri Liggiero of Tewksbury, who is headed to Newbury College this fall. “Even when her mom can’t make it, she calls her before the game.”
Elaborating, Candy Amos said, “I just try to give her that pep talk, that even though I can’t make it, you know I’m here, thinking about you, hoping everything goes okay.”
She calls the pregame talks a “calming factor” for her daughter. “I just want to make sure she’s calm before every game, and to do the best she can do.’’
Another mentor is Denise Davis , the owner of Planet Fastpitch in Uxbridge, who noted that Amos was “a special kid from the start.”
Citing the relationship between Kiara and Candy, Davis said, “The most special thing about them is that not only are they mother and daughter, they’re pitcher and catcher.’’
Davis noted that when Amos arrived at practice, her mother put on catching gear and warmed up her daughter.
“Candy has actually become a really good catcher throughout the years. Don’t let her fool you; she’s athletic,” Davis said.
This weekend, Amos and the Raiders’ U-18 Gold squad are in Raleigh, N.C., for the Carolina Cardinals Classic, with two games Friday, three more on Saturday, and a matchup Sunday against the NE Phoenix Gold.
On Monday, they will travel to Spartanburg, S.C., for the National Softball Association World Series, which runs through Thursday.
Amos is anxious to get back in the pitching circle after sitting the past two weeks with a calf injury, and having her wisdom teeth removed. She hopes to use her rise ball to stay ahead of hitters.
Looking ahead to her collegiate career at Providence, she has a message for young players: “Never give up.”
Here and there
The Newburyport American Legion Post 150 baseball team was dealt its first loss of the season, a 2-0 setback to Sudbury’s Post 91 in the quarterfinals of the state national qualifier Monday in Rowley. The Nor’Easters return to regular-season play Monday night at Gloucester . . . The Vikings, a North Shore AAU baseball squad consisting of 14-year-old players from Marblehead, Peabody, and Saugus, recently finished its season as the second-best team in New England. In a field of 53 teams, the first-year squad reached the championship game in Cranston, R.I., before losing to the Triple Play All-Stars of Bolton, 6-1, under the direction of coach Marc Crovo .