PREP FOCUS: League favorite Grant puts on a hit parade in win over Lincoln
by: JIM CLARK, Junior pitcher Bailey Rueck is one of Grant’s three returning all-PIL performers.

Softball is a hit at Grant High.

Actually, lots of hits.

The Generals served notice last week that they are the team to beat in the PIL. They opened the 6A league season with an 11-5 win over Lincoln, which figures to be their chief rival. Grant pounded out 16 hits in seven innings, and all 11 runs were earned.

'My kids can swing the bat,' coach Debbie Engelstad says, 'and I feel good about our defense.'

But the key for Grant could be its experience. Every starter is back from last season, when the Generals went 13-3 and took the PIL's No. 3 berth to state behind league champion Lincoln and Franklin.

Returning are three all-PIL performers (junior pitcher Bailey Rueck, junior shortstop Jessie Minch and senior catcher Kim Walker), second team all-PIL center fielder Rachel Frank, and three honorable-mention players (second baseman Alexys Ganado, third baseman Kayla Anderson and first baseman Britta Henning, all juniors).

Walker is the only senior who starts regularly. Minch, Ganado and Frank have been starters since they were freshmen.

'Our players were all excited for this year to start,' Engelstad says. 'When I started practice, it wasn't with fundamentals, it was with game situations.'

Lincoln took a 2-0 lead over Grant in the bottom of the first inning Thursday at Delta Park, but the Generals exploded for six runs on seven hits in the second frame, and never looked back.

'To me, that's indicative of the character of our team,' Engelstad says.

Rueck picked up the victory; Lincoln ace Megan Wasteney went the distance, as well.

Grant and Lincoln will meet three more times; the five PIL 6A teams are playing four games against every league foe.

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