Wilson Hall's Griffin commands circle on way to Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week


Wilson Hall senior Talan Griffin had an extra burden placed on her shoulders this spring.

After Amberly Way, who served as the program's ace during a run of three consecutive state titles, graduated, the Lady Barons needed a new pitcher to step up to be the No. 1.

In stepped Griffin.

It hasn't always been easy. Wilson Hall lost several games to poor weather early, so it was tough to get into a groove, but Griffin showed just how well she can pitch last week. She led Wilson Hall to victories over Carolina Academy and Calhoun Academy on consecutive nights with excellent performances in the circle, earning Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week honors in the process.

"It's really nice. Everyone at the school is really supportive of everything," Griffin said of the Wilson Hall community. "I feel like our grade is really supportive of everything each other does; it's really nice."

Head coach Teresa Alexander is proud of the way her senior has stepped up for her teammates this spring.

"Throughout the first half of the season, she was always an important part in the circle, but in the last week, she's really risen to be our go-to pitcher," Alexander said. "She understood that it's a position that had to be earned, and she did what it took. The thing about Talan is that you're not going to find a kid with a better work ethic. You're not going to find a kid with a better attitude. She's just uniquely built that way."

Griffin pitched 12 innings across those two games, allowing two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts. She also helped herself at the dish with a two-run shot in a 12-5 win over Calhoun.

"I think some of my pitches were working; that's what really helped me," Griffin said. "Our defense was incredible last week, so that gave me a lot of confidence. I know I don't have to strike everyone out.

"Knowing that my defense is behind me and I can let (opponents) hit it and they can make plays is helpful. Coach E (Emma Ayres) has definitely been telling me that I can do it. Even if I'm not in the circle, it's just knowing that I don't have to play perfect, I just have to do a good job."

Alexander has seen Griffin get much more comfortable in the circle throughout the spring, and that hit a peak last week.

"She knows the kind of pitcher she is. She's not going to blow it past people and get a lot of strikeouts. People are going to put the ball in play," Alexander said. "She knows her job is to make sure she limits her mistakes like throwing pitches down the middle of the plate so that they'll stay in the ballpark. She's taken a great handle on that."

Griffin's big week couldn't have come at a better time, as the Lady Barons are gearing up for another postseason run. The state tournament kicks off next weekend, so a confidence boost certainly helps.

"I think she's polishing and peaking at the perfect time," Alexander said. "Sitting here a week away from what it's all about, I know it gives us as coaches confidence, and I hope she's finding that in herself, too."

Griffin said it's all about the details as they hit the home stretch.

"We've really been focusing in practice that we need to take the little things and put them out into the game," she said. "I think we've been doing that. With the state tournament coming up, I feel like we've all finally gotten to know each other really well, and we feel like we can do it. Everybody calls us young, but I feel like we've really gotten a groove where each individual player knows their role."

As one of the four seniors on this year's squad, there is some added pressure as the playoffs draw near. This senior group has only known championship-level success, but Griffin and her teammates are trying to block out the noise.

"We're just going one game at a time," Griffin said. "Our end goal is to be in the state championship, but it's one game at a time. You can't look (ahead) and think we'll be playing in the state championship game. We have to say, 'Let's win this game, then the next game.' If we make mistakes, it's what can we do to fix that? For the seniors, it can be consuming when everyone is like, 'You need to play in the state championship.' But it's our senior year, so I'm just enjoying the moment right now and not really putting pressure on ourselves. I feel like that's when we do really play the best is when we're not really thinking about it."