Prince Albert product becomes first-ever international signing for Hickory, N.C. program
Prince Albert’s Kiana Mullner made some history last week.
The Grade 12 student at Carlton Comprehensive High School became the first-ever international signing for the Catawba Valley Community College Red Hawks softball team, which is based in Hickory, N.C.
“I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to go down and play for the school,” Mullner said.
“It’s kind of overwhelming and surreal in a way. I’ve worked very hard for a long time to get to the point of having a chance to play at a higher level and I’m excited for what’s ahead.”
Mullner, who plays at first base, third base and pitcher for the Prince Albert Aces program, started to get in contact with programs over the last couple of years.
“I really started to take things seriously when I was Grade 9,” Mullner said. “I was able to travel down into the United States with my winter team and I realized that I could go further with the sports and possibly have a future in it.”
The Red Hawks program, which competes in the Carolinas Junior College Conference, came on her radar after head coach Josh Bumgarner saw some of her highlights on the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) recruiting account.
“We started communicating over the phone after that and I was able to have a virtual tour of the school, as we obviously weren’t able to travel down to North Carolina due to the (COVID-19) pandemic,” Mullner said. “One of the things that stood out to me was the fact that Coach Bumgarner was willing to let me play all three positions once I get there, along with the fact that the program and the school seemed like a perfect fit for me.”
“Bringing Kiana into our program is big time,” Bumgarner added in a prepared statement. “Not only is she a good softball player that can play multiple positions, but opens another gateway for recruiting future Red Hawks.”
After winning 11 games in their first season in 2020, the Red Hawks are off to a strong start this year as they have a 5-1 record and are 19th overall in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division II rankings.
“Even though the program is new, Coach Bumgarner is very forward-thinking in bringing in girls from established programs, which is another reason why I chose to go there,” Mullner said.
In addition to playing for the Aces, Mullner has suited up for her province at the Western Canada Summer Games and has played for the Prairie Thunder and the 222’s fast pitch programs.
“Playing at those higher levels really helped with my development,” Mullner said. “I’ve been able to experience different competitions and also see how different teams play.
“To have the chance to travel to different tournaments has really allowed me to understands what I need to do work on with my skill set going forward, as there’s quite a lot of differences from playing in Canada and the United States.”
Before she ventures down to North Carolina later this summer, Mullner will be trying to get as many reps as she can during the next few months.
“I’m really hoping that we’re going to have some kind of season with the Aces once spring arrives,” Mullner said.
“At the moment, I’m practicing on my own and with a small group of my teammates as we’re trying to get in the best shape that we can be when the season gets started.”