Griffith competing well for Legion
By CONOR NICHOLL
Son of Andy Nicholl
Hays Senior Legion baseball player John Griffith is known throughout the area for starting at quarterback the last three years for WaKeeney-Trego Community High School. He was all-league in football and was among the area's top point guards for the Golden Eagles. Griffith is one of the rare players who competes for another high school and then plays for Hays during the summer.
Just like the Eagles' veteran infielder/Clayton Basgall, a La Crosse High School graduate, Griffith's only opportunity for competitive baseball is in the summer. Through 13 contests, Griffith held his own in his first season on varsity.
Griffith has batted .250 and led the squad in strikeouts (15) and walks (10) while starting all but one game. His .442 on-base percentage ranks fifth for the 7-6 Eagles -- three of the players ahead of him have signed to play college baseball.
"He has got a lot of just raw talent," coach Brad Kelly said. "He is just a good athlete. Offensively, he has got some really good bat speed. It is just going to take him a few weeks into the season here to really get his timing down.
"Guys that throw with higher velocity, he might struggle with a little bit because he is late," Kelly added. "But a lot of that is because he hasn't seen it, so the more at-bats he gets, the better he is going to get throughout the summer."
After last Wednesday's home doubleheader sweep against Great Bend, six pitchers had thrown between eight and 20 innings. Kelly has mixed and matched at some positions, especially at catcher with Brady Bieker and Jake Sedbrook and has used Kyler Niernberger in a rotation at second base.
Hayden Hutchison (team-high .484 average) and Basgall (second at .383) have played multiple infield positions.
"It kind of matters on who is pitching," Kelly said. "That's kind of how our defensive setup is going to be is based on whoever is on the mound. For instance, Hayden, he is going to move from short to third to first all depending who is on the mound. Our guys have got to be versatile and play multiple positions and luckily for us, they are."
Layne Downing has started strong with a 1-1 record and 1.05 earned-run average in a team-high 20 innings. He ranks third in batting at .372. Downing is 10 of 10 in steals, a team-best. Hays has stolen 30 bases in 32 attempts. ... The team carries a .298 average, but has delivered a 2.20 ERA.