Westmoreland High School Athletes of the Week: Ligonier Valley’s Maddie Griffin, Penn-Trafford’s Dylan Grabowski

Saturday, April 30, 2022 | 7:20 PM

Maddie Griffin

School: Ligonier Valley

Sport: Softball

Year: Senior

Claim to fame: One of the most dominant arms in the WPIAL, Griffin pitched the fifth perfect game of her high school career, doing so in head-turning fashion Monday as she struck out all 21 in a 3-0 victory over Seton La Salle.

Griffin, a Youngstown State commit, now has 13 no-hitters and 24 shutouts over this season and last.

She improved to 5-2 on the season with a one-hit, 17-strikeout performance the next day in a 9-0 victory over Brentwood. She went 2 for 3 in an 8-3 win over Steel Valley that stretched the Rams’ winning streak to eight.

Griffin then struck out 15 in a two-hit shutout, 12-0, against Brentwood. She also had three hits in that game.

What did your perfect game tell you about the state of your pitching?

That what my pitching coach, Rick Shaheen, and my dad, have been telling me is working. I was having a lot of mechanical issues to start the season because I took a lot of time off in the winter.

Why the time off?

I wanted to prepare for the playoffs this year. Last year, I was exhausted by the state championship, so I am trying to preserve myself for a WPIAL and, hopefully, a state run.

Where does your competitive drive come from?

My personal drive comes from trying to be the best. My dad says that I am the most competitive person he has ever spoken to.

What are some examples of your competitiveness off the field?

In the classroom, I am always striving to get the best grade in the class. I study more than I should sometimes because of that. I got third in the state in the FBLA accounting event.

How much credit goes to your catcher, Sydney Foust?

I can tell Syd works hard on her own to become a better catcher, and it really showed on Monday. By her framing the pitch for an extra second it allows the pitch to seem more believable, which, obviously, helps me a lot. I like to paint the corners, and that extra inch she gives me is very important.

Do you have all five of your perfect-game balls together somewhere?

I have the ball from my first perfect game from freshman year and the 21-K perfect game together. I didn’t keep the rest because I strive for perfection at this point, so it doesn’t jump off the page to me anymore.

Could you hit one of your pitches? If so, which one?

If I was pitching to myself, I would definitely strike out. If there was one pitch I think I could possibly hit it would be a rise because being a slap hitter I was taught to stay on top of the ball.

Who would play Maddie Griffin in a movie about Maddie Griffin?

I love Florence Pugh. So I would want her to portray me in a movie.

Who would play coach Mark Zimmerman?

It might be Morgan Freeman because every time I hear his voice I feel like I’m going to be told a life lesson.

Are you the bookworm or prankster on the team?

Honestly, I’m both. I have very good grades, but I’m also the most outspoken and humorous person on the team. Sydney Foust is the main outlet to my jokes. She mostly just gives me a silent glare though. I can’t tell if she is laughing internally or plotting my demise.

What past pro sports event you attend if you could go back in time?

Definitely a Steelers Super Bowl. Since I was too young to attend or even understand what was going on it would be awesome to feel the excitement with my dad, who is a die hard Steelers fan.

Vans or cowboy boots?

Vans for sure. Living in Ligonier, I feel out of place when I say I don’t like hunting or the outdoors all that much.

Tik Tok or Wordle?

TikTok. When I get a chance to relax I do not want to spend it thinking about words.

Starbucks or Dunkin?

Anyone who has seen me at school for the past two years knows it’s Starbucks. I get a drink from there almost every day.

Idlewild or Kennywood?

Idlewild when I was younger. Kennywood now.

NetFlix or in-person movies?

If we are talking about Marvel movies, I will watch those in the theater over Netflix any day.

Have you ever tried to pitch or hit a baseball?

Yes. I failed miserably at throwing a baseball because it is so different from a softball.

Have you ever signed an autograph? Did you practice your signature first?

I have yet to give out an autograph but I have practiced before. I have had people knock on my car window to ask if I’m the pitcher from Ligonier though.

Dylan Grabowski

School: Penn-Trafford

Sport: Baseball

Year: Junior

Claim to fame: Grabowski picked up a huge win for the Warriors on Tuesday by tossing a one-hit, five inning shutout against McKeesport. Grabowski struck out 10 and helped his cause by driving in two runs with a double. He is 1-1 this season with 33 strikeouts in 21 innings and an ERA of 2.00. When he’s not pitching, he plays second base.

How big was the win against McKeesport? We were coming off a loss to them, and we needed it to bounce back. I had good control and good command of all four of my pitches (fastball, curveball, change-up and knuckleball).

You’re in the running for second place in the section, and you have a big series against first-place Latrobe. What’s the key to beating them? We’re going to throw our best pitchers at them: Nolan Marasti and myself. The loss Friday to Plum was tough, so we need to bounce back and finish strong.

You have a few football players on the team. Since they won the WPIAL and PIAA title, what type of mentality do they bring to the field? Nolan, Jakob Haynes and Jacob Otto bring a certain confidence to the field. They don’t like to loss.

What are the team goals this season? Since winning the section is not possible, we want to make the WPIAL playoffs and go as far as we can. We definitely want to win the WPIAL title.

When you watch MLB, is there any player you like to watch? I like to watch a lot of players, especially Ke’Bryan Hayes. He plays hard and he has a lot of heart.

Is there anything you do prior to a game? I do a lot of stretching and use the plyo ball to help my pitching. I use it to loosen up.

Is there any special music you like to listen to? Not really. I like all music.

Is there a favorite meal you like the most? I like all Italian foods, so I guess spaghetti and meatballs that my mom makes the best.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.


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