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Chickasaw Ballplayer Uses Injury Year as Springboard

Chickasaw Ballplayer Uses Injury Year as Springboard

Not many young women can wear a tiara one minute and bat .586 the next.

Chickasaw citizen and Sulphur, Oklahoma, native Harlee Griffis does both with pride and humility. She was crowned 2013 Sulphur High School football queen, which she said, was a pleasant surprise considering “all the great girls in my senior class.”

But the petite young lady’s feats on the softball field were outstanding.

The 17-year-old Sulphur High School senior put up some amazing numbers during her last season with the Lady Bulldogs’ fast-pitch team. Those numbers earned her a scholarship to play ball for Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). And, the Chickasaw Nation will be helping with her educational expenses.

“Between the softball scholarship, and scholarships provided by the tribe and others, it will be a full, four-year ride for me,” Griffis said, adding she was thrilled to join Pam Fink’s OBU team.

Coach Fink is no stranger to Chickasaw Country. She earned her degree from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma before moving on to the college coaching ranks.

In 2000, Coach Fink was inducted into the OBU Athletic Hall of Fame. She guided the Lady Bison to the NAIA Final Four in 2002, marking the team’s first appearance in the tournament in 20 years. That squad set a record with 43 wins as Coach Fink claimed Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors. The OBU women reached the NAIA Tournament again in 2003.

Griffis will join the Lady Bison during the 2015 spring outing. Griffis achievements and her desire “to work hard, practice hard and earn a spot on the team” just might propel the program into the national spotlight again.

Consider the following:

• Harlee batted .586, connecting for hits 65 times in 111 times at-bat.

• She struck out only once last season.

• She stole 39 bases in 41 attempts.

• She had a .684 on-base percentage and swatted in 22 runners for the Lady Bulldogs.

Oddly, it may have been an injury her junior year that culminated in such stellar statistics her senior year.

“I hurt my right quad (a muscle in the thigh) my junior year and had to baby it,” Griffis said. “It was cold, and I stepped on the base wrong.”

With physical therapy and by nursing it along, Griffis was able to be at peak performance her senior year.

Many schools came courting with scholarship offers, but “from the moment I stepped on (the OBU) campus and met Coach Fink, I knew that was where I wanted to be,” Griffis said.

The added bonus is OBU is close to home, so visits will be frequent. She inked the national letter of intent with OBU in October. She’s not looking back.

“When I step on the field, there is a change that comes over me,” Griffis said. “I am in the moment. I have nothing on my mind except to play hard and win.”

Griffis plays second base and right field. She credits her Sulphur softball coach, Heath Gilbert, with excellent coaching which translated to success for her on the field.

Griffis has the ability to study pitches and place the ball where she desires, but admits she’ll swing at pitches with just the idea of getting on base or driving a base runner home. Her parents introduced her to softball by signing her up as a youngster to play T-ball. She has been active in the sport from summer youth, to junior high school and through high school.

Harlee also was a member of the Oklahoma Force, a summer team comprised mostly of Oklahoma City-area players. That is where she met Yukon, Oklahoma’s Carrie Abrams. Griffis and Abrams will be roommates and teammates at OBU.

Griffis is the daughter of Mark and Misty McDonough, of Sulphur, and Scott and Tiffany Griffis, of Wister, Oklahoma.