February 22, 2019

Women’s softball team prepares for life with new interim coach

Webster University named Katie Griffith Interim Head Softball Coach on Jan. 17, one week before official practices started for the team. The announcement came 24 days after Webster launched a nationwide search for a new softball coach.

Former Webster Head Softball Coach Chris Eaton is “no longer associated with the university” according to a press release from Webster. Eaton coached at Webster for 10 years.

Griffith said she immediately accepted when offered the interim head coach position. She said she liked coaching ever since high school when she gave pitching lessons to a friend’s sister.

“That sense of pride that you see on a player’s face when they master something that used to be difficult is so rewarding,” Griffith said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Griffith played Division I softball at the University of Georgia as a pitcher. She threw two perfect games in the 2004 season.

After college, Griffith moved to California to work alongside pitching instructor Tom House. House is known for coaching athletes such as Nolan Ryan, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Tim Tebow.

Griffith said she wanted to take House’s throwing science and apply it to softball. One day, Griffith said, she told House she wanted to give baseball a try. She said House treated her like any other athlete he trained. Griffith was 31 at the time.

Prior to her tenure as a coach, Griffith played in the California Winter League (CWL) in 2017. The CWL is a showcase league for baseball players looking to sign with a major league team. Griffith did not make it to professional baseball.

Griffith moved to the St. Louis area after playing in the CWL to train with the Gateway Grizzlies and work in their front office. Griffith did not try out for the Grizzlies because she was too old at the time but hoped to eventually play in a different independent baseball league. Griffith’s pitching velocity never reached the speed she needed to play in an independent league, she said.

Griffith said her ultimate goal after trying to play baseball was coaching.

Freshman player Taylor Jackson acknowledged Griffith’s impressive collegiate resumé.

“I have to say initially I was a little intimidated,” Jackson said.

 

Under Coach Eaton, the women’s softball team went 199-178, including a tie for first-place in 2010.

Jackson said she started to appreciate Griffith’s passion for softball after the first few days of practicing with her.

Webster University Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon announced Webster’s national search for a softball coach on Dec. 24. Kilgallon said he had a shortlist of people to look into for the position. Griffith was on that list, Kilgallon said.

“Where I’m sitting, I feel really good about [hiring Griffith], but time will tell,” Kilgallon said. “We’ll see how the season goes.”

Griffith will keep the interim tag throughout the season according to Kilgallon. He said he will assess Griffith on how competitive she is with the players, how well she connects with them and how structured the program is.

Kilgallon held a meeting with the players so they could meet Griffith after she signed with Webster.

“I left after five minutes because the connection was so strong and they were excited,” Kilgallon said.

Along with a new coach, the team will be welcoming in 13 new players. This includes a trio of players joining the team from Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colorado. One pitcher, Breelyn Craig, said she respected Griffith’s college playing experience.

“She knows the game really well,” Craig said. “She has already given so much guidance to our team in the last couple practices we’ve had.”

Catcher Darian Morlan said the team started off slow with Griffith coming in so close to the season’s start. Though, Morlan said it has not taken long to feel an entirely different atmosphere.

“So far, we have had only three practices and you can already feel just how different the atmosphere is for our team,” Morlan said. “The addition of our new coach has been a beneficial thing for us as players and we are all looking forward to the upcoming season.”

Griffith will coach her first game with Webster on Feb. 16, one day shy of a month after signing with Webster.

Along with a new coach, the team will be welcoming in 13 new players. This includes a trio of players joining the team from Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colorado. One pitcher, Breelyn Craig, said she respected Griffith’s college playing experience, which includes being a three-time letterwinner at the University of Georgia, as well as time with the National Pitching Organization (NPA).

“She knows the game really well,” Craig said of Griffith’s history with softball. “She has already given so much guidance to our team in the last couple practices we’ve had. I believe when we really come together and trust the process, we can go far in conference play and hopefully win the whole tournament.”

Catcher Darian Morlan is also one of the new players coming on board for the 2018-2019 season. Morlan said the team started off slow with Griffith coming in so close to the season’s start. Though, Morlan said that the passion Griffith has for softball is contagious, and it only took about three practices to feel an entirely different atmosphere.

“The passion and love for the game she has is contagious. I think we can all agree to that,” Morlan said of Griffith. “Because of this, we as players have already connected so well with her as a coach. We cannot wait to see what this season has in store for us and Coach Griffith.”

Griffith will be joining a Gorloks women’s softball program that has won eight regular season St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) championships, four tournament titles, and seven appearances into the National Athletic Collegiate Conference (NCAA) tournament. She will be making her coaching debut with Webster on Feb. 16 against Maryville College, one day shy of a month after signing with Webster.

 

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