There wasn’t much Sydney Griffin didn’t do on the softball diamond.
And, when the moment called for it, the Lincoln junior rose to the occasion.
She also sent more than her share of batters back to the dugout, unable to make contact with Griffin’s array of potent pitches.
The state’s top strikeout artist is also this year’s Palladium-Item Softball Player of the Year. Avon Miller, who guided Centerville to its first sectional championship, is Coach of the Year.
Lincoln coach Scott Griffin and Richmond’s Kyle Ingram were both considered for the coaching honor, while Centerville’s Lauren Honkomp and Richmond’s Mackenzie Taylor also put together strong individual seasons.
But, Griffin could be nearly unhittable for the opposition. According to statistics provided by the IHSAA, she was Indiana’s leading pitcher when it came to strikeouts, compiling 329 of them, along with a 20-4 record and an impressive 0.60 ERA.
She’s spent a lot of time working on that aspect of her game.
“Sydney has wanted to pitch in some fashion since she was 10 years old,” coach Griffin said.
Griffin’s junior season was full of highlights. She, along with a determined group of seniors, helped the Golden Eagles capture both Wayne County Tournament and Tri-Eastern Conference championships.
One of Griffin’s most dominant games came in the county tournament. She struck out 22 in a semifinal victory over Hagerstown.
The extra strikeout was the result of a Tiger reaching base on a dropped third strike.
“It was a great season for us,” Sydney Griffin said. “It gave the freshmen a head start and kind of gave them a look at what Lincoln softball is like. I think our seniors enjoyed it because they got to end their softball careers winning the conference and county tourney.”
Griffin had more than one ace up her sleeve.
Not only a talented pitcher, Griffin also waved one of the area’s most prominent bats. She hit .418 with a team-high 39 RBIs.
Griffin also swatted three home runs as Lincoln finished 22-5.
“A lot of kids can hit. A lot of kids can field. But when the moment shows up, they don’t always perform so well,” coach Griffin said. “She seems to do better than most at that, and she always has. That’s something you can’t coach into a kid. They either have drive and determination to do that, or they don’t.”
Griffin’s drive extends to the offseason, too. She’s currently spending a summer full of softball playing with a travel team.
Ask her which she prefers — batting or pitching — and the answer is a quick one.
“Pitching kind of takes over all of it,” she said. “It’s definitely my passion.”
Added coach Griffin: “She’s really worked at the game. When she was in middle school, she played basketball and she played volleyball as well. … She always put softball first. She’s always really loved the game.”
Miller had his Bulldogs playing their best softball at just the right time.
Centerville rolled into the sectional with a bye, then took on the daunting task of tackling a Lincoln team that had beaten the Bulldogs twice in the regular season.
Not a third time, though. Centerville outlasted the Golden Eagles 1-0 in 12 innings, before toppling host Union County 5-1 in the championship.
It was the first sectional title for the program, and one Miller was happy to see the team earn.
“The girls worked really, really hard,” Miller said. “We had people playing positions they weren’t accustomed to. They stepped up and did a great job for me.”
Miller also praised his coaching staff.
“They did a great job for me this year,” he said.
The Bulldogs also put a scare into the defending Class 2A state champion.
Centerville hosted Scecina in a regional game, finally bowing out of the state tournament with a 5-1 loss to finish 10-8.
“I really want to thank the girls for their performance,” Miller said. “We did it this year, and hopefully next year we can do better.”