Although they were recognized for their efforts in different sports, Altman Griffin and Greyson Way accomplished a few of the same goals on their way to being named Sandhills Athletic Conference Player of the Year these past seasons.
Griffin led the Richmond volleyball team to its second consecutive undefeated record in the conference, which resulted in another regular season championship, and its first conference tournament title in under former coach Shellie Wimpey.
Way did the same with the softball team, helping the Lady Raiders finish conference play without a loss and then sweep through the tournament for the right to be called the conference’s regular season and tournament champions.
Both will go down in the history books as the first-ever SAC Players of the Year in volleyball and softball.
Griffin, who came into the 2017 volleyball season as the reigning conference player of the year, got off to a hot start in the team’s SAC opener against Purnell Swett, ending the three-set match with a team high in kills (14), digs (12) and aces (7).
That performance set the tone for the rest of the way, as the Lady Raiders went on to earn 10 more three-set sweeps against conference opponents and Griffin finished with double-digit kills in nine of the remaining 13 conference matches.
Her dominance wasn’t confined to the SAC, however, as the senior outside hitter carried Richmond to a 3-1 victory over Anson with 18 kills in late August and then set a new season-high with 19 kills in a 3-2 win at Union Pines.
Griffin would finish the season with nearly 259 kills (averaging 3.8 kills per set) and 69 aces (racking up 222 serving points). The two-time CPOY also helped the Lady Raiders set the new program record for most wins in a season (25).
As for Way, who was in her debut season as the team’s starting pitcher, she threw her first no-hitter on the varsity level in just her third conference game of the season. After holding Purnell Swett to a total three runs in two meetings, she left Pinecrest swinging at the plate — striking out eight batters in a 10-0 victory on her home field.
Way would pitch her second no-hitter against Hickory Ridge in the fourth round of the state playoffs.
Aside from the Lady Raiders’ second meetings with Jack Britt, Lumberton and Scotland, the junior ace never gave up more than two runs in a regular-season conference game. Way had four SAC games (Lumberton, Pinecrest, twice, and Seventy-First) where she held the oppposing team without a run.
Inside the circle, Way earned 24 wins and 252 strikeouts — both the second most in the state — and was the only player to throw a pitch for Richmond in 29 games played. As a batter, she would finish with 43 hits, a team-best 41 RBI and a .443 batting average. Her eight home runs — one being a grand slam against Seventy-First in the conference tournament — were fourth best on the team.
WHAT WAS SAID
“I thought she has really grown since last year, with her leadership and her positivity on the court. She was hitting the ball harder this year and she got stronger,” former volleyball coach Shellie Wimpey said of Griffin. “All of those sorts of things really made her a better player for our team as a hole.”
Griffin graduated last Friday and will now prepare for life at UNC-Wilmington, where she will continue her volleyball career. Once she settles into her dorm this fall, her first order of business will be to find a spot on the beach with her best friend and future roommate — also her former volleyball teammate — Bri Baysek.
Way has one more year in high school before she’s off to play at UNC-Greensboro. The future Spartan will return for her senior year this fall and hopes to lead the Richmond softball team, which has come so close the past two seasons, to its first-ever NCHSAA 4A State Championship title next spring.
UPDATE: Dante Miller also received the conference’s highest honor, as he was named SAC Boys Runner of the Year following the 2018 outdoor track and field season. Miller won every 100m and 200m race he participated in and was named champion in the two events at the SAC championship meet in late April. He was also a member of the 4x100m and 4x200m relay teams that won conference titles and competed at the NCHSAA 4A State Championships.
Greyson Way (17), the inaugural SAC Softball Player of the Year, only had three conference games where she gave up more than two runs and finished the 2018 season with 24 wins and 252 strikeouts, both being the second most in the state.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.