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Miranda Wood does not know how to back down from a challenge. Competition drives her.

It’s what has made the senior an impact athlete in both varsity softball and indoor track and field since her freshman year at Thomas Stone.

Competition is what drove her to back down to no one on her softball team, including the seniors, as a highly confident ninth-grader.

Competition is what has driven her as a decorated runner throughout an indoor track career that concluded this winter at the high school level.

Wood’s contribution to the Cougars’ 1,600-meter relay team resulted in a third straight Class 3A state title last month. She also celebrated state gold in the 3,200 relay while placing fourth in the 55 hurdles and sixth 800 relay.

Competition is what drove her to capture a plethora of indoor track titles at the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, 3A East Region and state meets throughout her Stone career, totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 golds between the three postseason stages while also attaining a bevy of other state-placing finishes.

“We won so much,” Wood said, referring to her relay teams, “that I’ve lost count.”

Competition is what drives her to be a standout shortstop for Stone, entering her second year at the position this spring, despite naturally being an outfielder. A year ago, Wood was a second-team All-County selection at shortstop. She also adapted to playing second and third base her first two years with Stone because that’s where the team most needed her.

“I don’t know if brash is the right word, but she made varsity as a freshman and she knew she was good [that year]. That’s her competitiveness,” Stone sixth-year head coach Dave Reilly said, noting that the meshing was not always smooth between Wood as a strong-minded freshman and the team’s seniors that year. “I really believe she could be one of the top outfielders in SMAC, but she’s a team player and plays where we need her. It was that competitiveness that has allowed her to adapt to [infield].”

And competition is what has driven Wood to officially sign in both sports with Queens University of Charlotte, an NCAA Division II outfit in North Carolina.

She signed to play softball at Queens during the early November signing period, then overcame her initial hesitancy of belonging to a pair of sports in college when she inked her name to a partial indoor track scholarship with the university in February.

“People ask me this all the time. I honestly do not know,” Wood said about what sport prefers. “I think I’m better at indoor track, but I enjoy softball more because I’ve done it my whole life. I started when I was 10 years old and have played travel ball, too. I like the camaraderie with the other [softball] girls.”

Not backing down from the challenge of competition has her ready to properly balance being a two-sport college athlete while maintaining her academic load.

“At first, I didn’t know if I’d be able [to balance doing two sports in college] with my classes,” Wood said. “But the more I talked to the coaches, the more they prodded me to feel comfortable about it. I’m looking forward to it.”

Ready to make royal mark at Queens

Wood was recruited by Queens softball at her natural outfield position but already has intentions of proving to her college coaches that she can play shortstop, as she has fallen in love with the position at Stone.

“The competitiveness comes out in everything she does,” Reilly said. “If the [softball] team is just running a lap, Miranda is going to be the first one to finish. She likes to finish two links ahead of everyone else.”

Because Queens is moving to a new conference next year, Wood indicated that she will not receive any scholarship money to play softball there as a freshman. She was informed, however, that a partial scholarship ride will be coming her way beginning her sophomore campaign.

Wood received other college offers, mostly from Division III schools, but she only applied to Queens.

“Once I got accepted, I reached out to the [softball] coaches,” she said. “I went to softball camp [at Queens] in June [of last year] and really liked it. I got invited back for a recruit weekend in September that was pretty much like a showcase. I got to stay in the dorms. I loved the campus, and I loved the coaches.”

Wood added that the Queens softball team “is very big with 23 girls.” She’s one of four incoming freshmen who signed National Letters of Intent to join the team for next season.

“I’ll have to work my way up,” the right-handed Wood said.

Reilly added, “At Queens, they’re going to use her as a slap hitter [batting from the left-handed side]. In travel ball, they converted her to a slap hitter because of all that speed. We’re going to let her do some slap hitting this year [for Stone]. What makes her so effective is that speed she has.”

It was such explosiveness on the diamond that led her coaches at Stone to push her to join the indoor track team as a freshman. Wood had never run in the sport before. At first, she only did indoor track during the winter to gear up for softball in the spring.

Indoor track soon became an accomplished art for Wood; she dug her competitive teeth into it.

As she prepares for her final high school sports season as the only senior for Stone softball, Reilly now sees much more than just a highly competitive, accomplished athlete in Wood.

The coach is impressed by the leadership she has displayed. He knows that will be key in grooming Stone’s young team for the upcoming spring campaign, starting for the Cougars on Thursday in a nonconference home game against Patuxent.

“She matured her junior year. This year and last year, I’ve noted the leadership coming out in her,” Reilly praised. “We announced she was going to be a captain the end of last year, and she’s really taken to that role. She’s gone out of her way to take the freshmen under her wing.”

Wood added, “We lost a lot of key players last year, so it’s going to be hard because I’m the only senior. We have some juniors helping out [with leadership on the team]. I’m just really curious to see how the [season] is going to go. We’re a really young team.”

It’s just another challenge to overcome for the competitive Wood.