First year Emily Griffin has established herself as a capable member of the Bowdoin softball team. Griffin has started on the mound seven times this season, tied for the team lead with senior Melissa DellaTorre. Last weekend, Griffin held Colby scoreless and limited reiging D-III national champion Tufts to almost two runs below its season average. Typically, first years do not contribute as much to the team, particularly not as pitchers.

“The last time it happened was with Melissa. It really is reminiscent of Melissa,” said captain Hannah Wurgaft ’14. “That being said, it’s not very often.”

Head Coach Ryan Sullivan said he agreed.

“You never like to think that a first year is going to come in and have that kind of an impact,” he said. “It would be almost unfair.”

“I had no idea what to expect,” Griffin said. “I don’t ever assume I’ll get much playing; I figured I’d have to do my time on the bench.”

The first-year pitcher has been part of a very balanced pitching rotation; the four pitchers—DellaTorre, Griffin, Julia Geaumont ’16, and Alana Luzzio ’17—have started seven, seven, six and four games, respectively. Each one offers a different style of pitching. Though Griffin has a vast repertoire of pitches, she can struggle—like many first years—with consistency.

“I came in with an inconsistent drop ball,” Griffin said. “I’ve been working on that in practice. My curveball was stronger. I think it’s actually reversed now.”

She leads the team in at-bats and hits while sporting a .379 batting average. When she is not pitching, Griffin starts in centerfield, and is therefore responsible for communicating with the right and left field.

“In the time that I’ve been here, she’s probably the most diverse player I’ve ever seen,” said Cielle Collins ’15. “And the really crazy thing about it is that she does each thing so well.”

Often at the top of the line-up, Griffin bats as a slap hitter, meaning that she bats left-handed and takes a running start at a bunt, hoping to beat the ball to first base. Her teammates note that although her incredible speed makes her ideal for the role, she is one of the few slap hitters strong enough to power the ball into the outfield. Wurgaft remembered an at-bat where Griffin recorded a triple by turning a potential bunt into a blast over the outfielder’s head. The threat of a long ball into the outfield makes Griffin particularly difficult to defend because defenses cannot slide to cover the bunt.

Griffin’s skill in all three facets of the game has demanded a rigorous practice schedule. She often pitches for 20 to 40 minutes then splits the remaining practice time between hitting and fielding. She has divided her time similarly for double-headers.

“I think it would be exhausting to do what she does each game,” Collins said. “She’ll pitch a game, get four at-bats, and then have to stay focused in center field.”

Before coming to Bowdoin, Griffin had played most of her career on the West Coast, often traveling to California with her team. The Arizona resident lived in Massachusetts until age nine and had always anticipated returning to the Northeast.  Her childhood goal was to play for Dartmouth but she was swayed by her talks with Sullivan.

Griffin said that she started playing softball with her town’s youth team because her parents wanted her to make friends. Once she began playing more competitively, she was forced to give up horseback riding, which she had been doing competitively since she was five. She has since rekindled her love of riding, practicing with the equestrian team in the fall when it does not conflict with softball.

Sullivan recalls that he brought Griffin to Bowdoin even though the distance between Maine and Arizona prevented him from seeing her play in person. He described the difficult evaluating process that he and his pitching coach went through when studying footage of her. In the end, he concluded that between the tape, her reputation and her contributions to a high-level club team with a national championship to its name, he could “take a shot at it.”

So far, Griffin has not disappointed.

The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.