Haley Grimmius keeping eyes fixed on bright fast-pitch future
The thrilling 2021 high school girls fast-pitch softball season is over, the Sioux Falls Renegades season is winding down, and Worthington’s exceptional pitcher, Haley Grimmius, is doing everything she can to ensure that her future is every bit as exceptional as her recent past.
WORTHINGTON -- The thrilling 2021 high school girls fast-pitch softball season is over, the Sioux Falls Renegades season is winding down, and Worthington’s exceptional pitcher, Haley Grimmius, is doing everything she can to ensure that her future is every bit as exceptional as her recent past.
The hard-throwing right-hander will be a senior at WHS in the fall, and in the fall of 2022 she’ll begin her freshman year at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., where she plans to continue her softball career. Last spring as an 11th-grader, Grimmius struck out 270 batters in 148 innings as a member of the Worthington Trojans, compiling six no-hitters and a 1.56 earned run average while leading the team to third-place in the Section 2AAA tournament.
For the Trojans, it was a year like no other. And it was a year that couldn’t have happened without its star pitcher.
But not only is Grimmius a highly talented softball player, she’s also a very hard worker. She has been highly motivated since her grade-school years. Both she and her father, Brad, say that there was never a time when she complained about the hours and hours of effort she’s put into being the best she can be at her chosen sport.
“Not once. Seriously,” said Brad, who doubles as her daughter’s personal trainer. “We’ve always had it that this is her dream. She’s never complained once.”
Haley concurs. “You have to keep your foot on the pedal all year round. That’s the only way you’ll be successful at the next level.”
Young Grimmius’s talent was discovered early, and her success began early. She has won four state championships as a member of the Renegades, including earlier this month in the 18U program. Not only did her performances as a pitcher stand out, but she stood out as a powerful hitter, too.
And as a Renegade, she’s had to go against the best. In one game, for instance, she faced Nebraska prep pitcher Jordyn Bahl, a University of Oklahoma recruit that was the No. 1 recruit in the country in 2021. That’s quite an abrupt change from facing some southwest Minnesota high school pitchers who throw 40 miles per hour.
The team comes first
In part because of her early on-field success, the Grimmius family had a decision to make several years ago as they wondered whether they should allow her to play on the high school varsity team as a seventh-grader.
It wasn’t an easy decision. If she played, she’d be taking playing time away from upperclassmen. She was also very busy with the Renegades at that time, so it was a lot of pressure to expect her to give it her best with both programs.
In the end, she was held back until the eighth grade.
If there was ever a question about how she’d be welcomed as a young player on the WHS varsity team, it didn’t stay unanswered for long. Grimmius became just like one of the girls. After all, she learned teamwork and camaraderie as a Renegade. Character counts big-time in the Renegade program, and character begins with being a team player.
In fact, Brad told a story about how his daughter naturally puts team above herself.
“Last season, she had tears after talking to Moz (head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka) after the season was canceled (due to COVID-19),” Brad recalled about the spring of 2020. “After that, Haley started walking off by herself, and I saw that she was crying a little bit. So I asked her why, and she said, ‘Dad, this is a real good team and we have a chance to win a section title, and we haven’t had that here for the Trojans. So I’m feeling for the seniors here, that they aren’t getting a chance to win the title.’”
The following year, 2021, was magical. Brad, an assistant coach for the Trojans, remembers that the whole town got caught up in the most impressive girls fast-pitch season in memory. Haley remembers the winning, of course, and also a wonderful team spirit that inspired every player to push herself.
“We did have real good team chemistry. We didn’t have any drama, we were just there to have fun. It really helps,” she said.
It’s all about perspective
It was obvious to everybody that Haley was the engine that pulled the train forward. But she wasn’t the only outstanding player. Her All-Big South Conference catcher, Sophie Wietzema, was uniquely qualified to handle her hard-to-catch assortment of fastballs, change-ups, riseballs, rise curves and drop curves.
Next year, Haley believes the Trojans can enjoy another memorable year. Wietzema graduated last spring, but other fine players remain.
“We can just pick up right where we left off last season,” Grimmius said. “We obviously lose some good players, but we’ve got more who can step up and fill their shoes.”
The fact that Grimmius will return, of course, is the key. Fast-pitch softball is largely a pitcher’s game, and when you’ve got a pitcher like Haley Grimmius you’ve always got a chance to win.
But of course, winning isn’t only about getting a ‘W’ in the record book. Brad said that his daughter has embraced their heart their heart-to-heart discussions about how she wants to be remembered; she responded that she wants to be remembered most for her quality pitching, for her ability as a hitter, for being a good teammate, and as an athlete who gives it everything she can give.
Perhaps it’s that point of view that allows Haley to shrug off all those medals and trophies she’s earned over the years. In fact, she doesn’t call her trophies trophies. She calls them “boat anchors.”