Having just finished her junior year at Aragon High School, softball extraordinaire Megan Grant touched down Monday in Oklahoma City.
Grant’s mission in the softball capital of the world — taking her first step toward the Olympic dream
Grant reports Tuesday for the U18 Women’s National Team Selection Trial, joining a field of approximately 30 players from around the nation auditioning for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“Coming from not a softball world, I feel like it hasn’t hit me yet,” Grant said. “I know being in this position is like a softball girl’s dream. It hasn’t hit me yet. For me this is what I wanted, I worked for it. But it’s like that humbling feeling.”
Grant grew up playing youth baseball in South San Francisco and didn’t switch over to the softball diamond until she was in eighth grade. Before her first season was done on the travel softball summer circuit with the West Bay Warriors — before she had even played an inning of high school softball — she had already verbally committed to play at the NCAA Division I powerhouse UCLA.
“She’s a future Olympian, there’s no question,” West Bay Warriors founder Ray McDonald said. “The kid is phenomenal.”
Grant’s Olympic future is yet to be determined. It won’t be in 2020, for certain. The current selection process is not for the Tokyo Games, but is a primer for the future of the U.S. Olympic team.
Her picture will be much clearer by week’s end. On-field activities in Oklahoma City will be held Wednesday and Thursday, with Grant trying out for her natural position at shortstop and a secondary choice of catcher.
“This is her first rock and roll moment,” McDonald said. “But she’s been rocking and rolling since she was a little kid. She’s always been the best player on the field, boy or girl.”
It just so happens the 18U West Bay Warriors team for which Grant plays is in Oklahoma this week as well, playing in the Top Gun national tournament, a prestigious invitational being held in Choctaw and Shawnee.
With the Top Gun tourney running through Saturday, the Warriors are hoping to reach the championship round and allow Grant to join them.
Grant has no complaints about running the gamut for the game she loves. She did this throughout the spring, moonlighting between Aragon and the Warriors. Her training regiment doesn’t allow for much downtime.
Warriors coach Kelly McDonald said sometimes she has to order Grant to go be a kid.
“Off days are non-existent,” Grant said.
“I don’t mind it,” she said. “I’m not someone who gets mentally or physically tired that much. I see it every day as an opportunity to better myself in any type of way. … I just want to be prepared to step on the field the next time I play. So I just want to always work toward that goal.”
Grant said she almost missed the opportunity to participate in the Women’s National Team Selection Trial because — maybe this falls in the “go be a kid” category — she overlooked an email from the national committee.
Grant said when her mother asked her if she planned on responding she wasn’t even sure about its authenticity.
“We didn’t even know if it was real or not,” Grant said. “It was surreal.”
And to watch Grant perform even at the varsity level, it is clear she is ready for the spotlight. Numbers aside — she batted .697 with seven home runs in 15 games at Aragon this season — she and her junior counterpart with the Lady Dons and Warriors, Liv Dinardo, are as good a show as anyone is going to see on the high school softball stage right now.
Grant and Dinardo make it look easy on the diamond. And they play Horse. Yes, Horse — the basketball shooting game where one person makes a shot, and the other has to mimic the shot. Only Grant and Dinardo do this with their at-bats — in games.
Don’t believe it? Ask Hillsdale High School. When Aragon traveled to Hillsdale to play their annual season-finale rivalry big game, Hillsdale tried an interesting approach to defending Grant. When the left-handed hitter came to bat, Hillsdale waited until the pitcher started her delivery, then hustled toward the right side of the diamond in a sudden defensive shift.
The approach backfired. In the third inning, Grant beat the shift by scorching a triple with high-exit velocity shot into left-center field. In Dinardo’s next at-bat in the fifth inning, the lefty did the exact same thing — screaming triple to left-center — same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
It’s just one of the ways Grant keeps the softball world in perspective.
“I’m able to hold on to a lot of things at once and I know which ones to pinpoint and focus on,” Grant said. “And right now I’m just having fun.”