With a Pitch Clocked at 70, Michele Granger Is Softball's Dr. K
updated 10/20/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/20/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT
A lanky 5'10" and 149 lbs., Granger, who lives in Placentia, Calif., picked up her first softball tips at 8 from her dad, Mike, an insurance marketer. She pitched her first full game in sixth grade, then worked her way up the amateur ladder to the Santa Monica Raiders, national champs in the 18-and-under division. Playing for her high school varsity, the Valencia Tigers, earlier this year she struck out all 21 batters (seven innings at three batters per). In January the perennial world champion Hi Ho Brakettes of Stratford, Conn. needed a replacement and picked up Granger. She helped them take the title in New Zealand by pitching a shutout against Indonesia and saving a 2-1 win over Canada.
In the somewhat recondite world of women's softball, Granger is often compared with pitcher Joan Joyce, the best anybody remembers, who left to become a golf pro. Michele's speed derives from a left-handed, windmill windup. Her personal pitching coach, Don Sarno, says, "I've handled a lot of pitchers, including men, and Michele's fast ball is the most difficult to catch. I think even the umpires blink." Michele thinks her strength is her cool, even though she clenches her jaw whenever she wings one in. "I don't crunch under pressure," she says. "I just forget about it. I take a deep breath and throw the ball." Then the batter takes a deep breath and misses.