Pike Liberal softball aims for state championship

Published 10:33 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pike Liberal Arts softball head coach Wayne Grant is a veteran of playoff runs, but not on the softball field.

Grant, a legend in the high school football ranks in the state, has the Pike Liberal Arts Lady Patriots competing in the AISA State Tournament in Montgomery on Friday.

The Patriots have, as Grant calls it, an “inconsistent” season, but likes the challenge that lies before his team.

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“The girls have played very well at times this season,” said Grant. “But at others we looked like we were not focused. We can make some noise at the tournament if we keep our head in it.”

Pike earned a trip to the state tournament by knocking off Lee-Scott Academy in the first round of the area tourney a few weeks back.

In the second leg of the area, the Lady Pats stumbled to a pair of losses. As a result, Pike received the four-seed for their side of the bracket.

Grant said the losses last week can be chalked up to errors in the field, something the team has worked on all week at practice.

“We worked on being focused and seeing the ball all the way through,” said Grant. “If you can hit the ball well, and be the team with the least amount of errors, you will have a really good shot to win the ball game every time.”

Grant led Pike County High School to five football state titles in two different stints as head coach, and has leaned on lessons learned on the gridiron during the time as softball coach this season.

“It may surprise some people but there are a lot of similarities between the two,” Grant said. “It doesn’t matter what sport you play, you have to be mentally tough and willing to look after your teammates. When one player makes a mistake, the whole team can suffer.”

Pike will face off with Region 1 top seed Kingwood Christian in the opening game of the state tournament. First pitch is set for noon.

Grant said that regardless of the results of the tournament, he is proud of the way Pike has played this season.

“I am definitely proud of them and where they are,” said Grant. “They had opportunities to quit and hang their head this season, and they didn’t. That says a lot about this group.”