For first time in 18 years, Lancer softball makes playoffs
Jun 29, 2018 04:00PM
● By Greg James
Granger qualified for the state softball team for the first time in 18 years. (Aspen Earnshaw/Granger softball)
By Greg James | [email protected]
It had been 18 years since the Lancers had played a game in a postseason tournament.
“It felt good to have a great year,” senior Aspen Earnshaw said. “My senior year, and we played really well.”
The Lancers captured 16 wins this season, nine more than they had in 2017. It all started with a successful St. George trip in March. They won three out of four games in the March Warm-up tournament. They scored 64 runs in their five games.
“I don’t know what really made the difference,” first-year head coach Sam Vidal said. “We put in the hard work and made the girls understand that they can. They can believe in themselves and change the culture of Granger.”
Believing turned on the offense for the Lancers. They scored 246 runs in 27 games, an average of 9.1 per game.
“I have been teaching at Granger for two years, and I think all of our sports are starting to believe that they can,” Vidal said. “Sometimes we had the idea that ‘yeah we are Granger, and we are here, but not supposed to play well.’ The kids need to believe that we can compete with all of the other schools.”
Senior Lexi Breeze led the team in hitting. She had a .603 batting average with 27 runs batted in and eight doubles. Junior Gates Leatherwood belted seven home runs and 27 RBI she also hit .507. Freshman Caitlyn Olsen had a .506 average.
“I feel that our batting was a strength,” Vidal said. “We also had several very consistent hitters like Jaiden (Griffiths), Lexi (Breeze) and Gates (Leatherwood). They really led our team.”
Three players carried the pitching staff: seniors Hayley Rigby and Ann Banuelos, along with the freshman Olsen. They had a 7.23 earned run average and combined for 82 strikeouts.
“It was nice pitching-wise for us,” Vidal said. “They each had their own strengths, and we were able to use them in situations we needed to.”
The Lancers graduated seven seniors. They will rely on some younger players next year, many who do not have much varsity experience.
“We have some girls playing summer ball,” Vidal said. “I think comp and high school leagues work hand in hand. Comp is important for players that want to continue playing in college. Those coaches can get out and see them during the summer months. I think they are both beneficial. In high school, the girls practice every day; that helps.”
Lexi Macarthur returned to the team this season. She has been cancer free for several months.
“We know about her fight, and it was awesome from a coaching standpoint,” Vidal said. “She did not want it to be about her, but deep down it was amazing to see her fight and what she has gone through. As a team, we benefited knowing the things she can do by believing.”
Vidal finished enjoyed his first year as the Lancers’ head coach.
“I love it here, and the girls have embraced it,” Vidal said. “I want them to be proud of their school and where they are from. It takes a lot of school pride.”