Through The Eyes

An Oakland Athletics site

Taking The Lead

By Lauren Griffith

“You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

This line from my family’s favorite movie when I was growing up, “The Sandlot,” was essentially what my dad said to me when I was thinking about quitting softball in high school.

I was always good at softball. I took to the sport immediately when I started playing wiffle ball with my dad and brothers in the backyard.

But at the time, early in my high school career, I loved basketball more. And I wanted to focus on basketball and be a one-sport athlete.

After my dad reminded me that my jumping ability is limited at best (sadly true), I realized my skills were best utilized on the softball field as opposed to the basketball court.

I kept playing softball after my freshman season, and I’m so glad I did because my role on the team completely changed during my sophomore season.

We had a bunch of upperclassmen that graduated, including several that went on to play at the Division I level, so I took on a leadership role in my second season.

I loved every part of it. I felt more involved and a key contributor to the team both on and off the field.

Today, as a senior softball player at Oakland, I find myself in a similar role.

Not only am I grateful to have gained those leadership skills in high school, but I couldn’t be more thankful to have continued to play a sport that holds such a special place in my heart.

I want to be here

My time at Oakland has had several twists and turns along the way, and they started almost immediately.

I committed to Oakland mostly because my older brother Blake was playing baseball for them at the time. We’ve really started to bond when I got to Oakland, too, and it was great to have him there for advice and guidance.

When I committed, I felt the coaching staff had a great idea about who I was as a player and person.

I had no idea I’d never take the field for those coaches.

They contacted me going into my senior year of high school to let me know that they wouldn’t be coming back to Oakland. There had been a change.

To say that was overwhelming to hear would be a massive understatement.

Fortunately, Coach Karn and the rest of the coaching staff couldn’t have been more gracious. They chose to honor all commitments from the previous coaching staff, so my position on the team was safe on one condition.

Coach Karn told me she wants players that want to be here.

When I told her I still wanted to be a Golden Grizzly and would do everything I could to prove that, she welcomed me with open arms.

Actions speak louder than words

With a new coaching staff in place, I needed to show that I belonged here.

Not only was I uncharacteristically aggressive for a young player at the plate, I even agreed to play catcher – a position I’d never played in my life – just so I could secure playing time with no available spots in the outfield.

Once I got my feet wet playing a new position and getting used to the DI level, my leadership role on the team expanded.

I’m the type of leader in that I’m not just going to encourage my teammates through my words – I’m going to inspire and motivate my teammates through my actions on the field.

In the last few seasons as I’ve become an upperclassman, leading on the field has been my leadership style. Whether it’s picking my teammates up after errors, showing sportsmanship, or playing the game the right way, it’s important for me to show the younger girls that I practice what I preach in the field and at the batter’s box.

For all the accomplishments and accolades I’ve been able to achieve these last four years, being a leader for this team is what I’m the most proud of.

And heading into my fifth and final season, I couldn’t wait to continue that leadership on the field.

Little did I know I’d begin my final season leading from the sideline.f


For all the accomplishments and accolades I've been able to achieve these last four years, being a leader for this team is what I'm the most proud of. And heading into my fifth and final season, I couldn't wait to continue that leadership on the field.

Leading through adversity

I’ve had a lingering back injury since October, and it’s been one thing after another.

Through multiple diagnoses, doctor visits, injections, and dealing with obstacles through insurance, this injury has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to go through in my life.

While it’s been demanding trying to navigate through the unknowns of this injury, it’s been even more difficult from a leadership aspect.

Like I said before, I lead by example on the field. I haven’t been able to do that so far this season, and it’s been crushing, especially in my final year.

Even in my lowest moments, though, I can’t help but look back on my career at Oakland and be anything less than appreciative.

I think back on all the times I dreaded early morning workouts, long practices, and playing in 30-degree weather. I kind of kick myself for initially dreading those days because I didn’t fully appreciate them until they were taken away from me with this injury.

As I continue to lead the younger girls, that’s the message I want to get across to them. Time goes faster than you think.

Treasure every moment you have, and never take a single second in that Oakland uniform for granted.

Because one day, it will come to an end.

Whether I’m able to get back on the field in my final few months as a collegiate player remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain.

I’m going to give it everything I’ve got as I lead my teammates in my final season.

I owe it to a sport and university that have given everything to me.