Grant finding her groove to help Plainview softball gain ground

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
Plainview's Riley Grant (22) celebrates with her teammates after hitting a two-run homer. The senior also tossed a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts in the 8-0 win over Sulphur

Riley Grant didn’t start pitching at a young age, as she made her first appearance in the circle at 12 or 13 years old. That could have been a disadvantage, but the Plainview High School senior hasn’t let it stop her from showcasing her talent.

Grant proved that against Sulphur by tossing a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts and also driving in five runs at the plate, highlighted by a two-run homer.

“Riley is definitely special to have in the circle,” said Lady Indians head coach Brandon Ybarra. “She provides senior leadership and she makes her presence known in the circle. That’s what we like, especially when we get to play some great defense behind her, too. This might be the third or fourth game where we’ve had a shutout. It’s great to have her.”

Grant isn’t one to pat herself on the back though, as she lets her game do the talking. However, she did admit that 17 strikeouts might be her highest total and gave some insight on her passion.

“I love to pitch,” Grant said. “I definitely love being in the circle, in control of the game.”

It’s safe to say she was in control of the Lady Bulldogs, but she’s not focused on her performance.

Her eye is on the bigger picture as Plainview is in the midst of an impressive run since dropping a 3-2 setback to Lone Grove in extra innings.

“The girls took that loss to heart,” Ybarra said. “It stung a little bit — losing by one run. They found a way to pick themselves up and we’ve gone four games without allowing a run. We’ve just been producing runs like crazy. From that game, we’ve definitely took it up to another level.”

That higher level led the Lady Indians to a championship at the Plainview Invitational over the weekend. And the three wins weren’t low-scoring affairs, as the offense put up 10 or more runs in each contest.

“The lineup hasn’t changed much all year, but we’re just finding ways to grind it out,” Ybarra said. “Everybody’s participating. That’s the big thing. … Coach Long, my hitting coach, has done a great job with this group. I trust her.”

The trust doesn’t end with the coaching staff though, as the Lady Indians also have a special bond that helps them find success at the plate.

“I would say whenever we’re all up in the dugout and when we play as a team, that makes us really special,” Grant said. “We’ll go out there and get hit after hit.”

Only time will tell how Plainview fares the rest of the way, but the Lady Indians should be in good shape if Grant continues to put up impressive numbers.

“Every time she steps in the circle, she’s just getting better and better,” Ybarra said. “That’s a good trend for us going towards the playoffs.”