Taylor Griffin has been one of the Canal Winchester High School softball team's top players the last two seasons.
The junior first baseman and team captain was batting .360 and was leading the team with two home runs and 14 RBI through 16 games. Defensively, she had only two errors in 155 chances.
Last season, Griffin batted .361 with six doubles, 13 RBI and 15 runs and was honorable mention all-MSL-Buckeye Division.
"Taylor's a good leader and a really strong player," said coach Randy Hinton, whose team was 10-8 overall and 4-4 in the OCC-Cardinal after beating Dublin Jerome 2-1 on May 5 and before playing Westerville Central on May 6 and Westerville North on May 7. "She has a high batting average and she hits for power in our No. 4 hitting position. She's an excellent first baseman, too. She's tall and does a good job of stretching for the ball to save her teammates from having throwing errors."
Two years ago, though, Griffin's future in softball appeared to be in jeopardy when she began having headaches and feeling fatigued and nauseous on a daily basis.
She ultimately was taken to a hospital, where she underwent tests. She was diagnosed with celiac disease, a digestive disorder triggered by the abnormal immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
The disease, which has no known cure, damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of some nutrients from food.
"I was really scared when I didn't know what was wrong with me because I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to play sports anymore and I didn't know what I was going to do with my life without softball," Griffin said. "I was surprisingly relieved when I was diagnosed, because I knew I was only going to get better from that point on.
"It took me about six months to get used to my new diet because wheat and flour are in a lot of the things I was eating every day. It was hard to give up things like pizza and cookies at first, but after awhile I got used to it and my parents started making me (gluten-free) versions of a lot of my favorite meals."
Despite her medical condition, Griffin earned the starting job at first base as a freshman.
"I played good enough defense to start as a freshman, but I didn't hit the ball very well and I went from being our No. 4 hitter to No. 8 in our lineup," she said. "I didn't even hit at all in two or three games."
After changing her diet and taking medication to increase low iron levels in her blood, Griffin regained her previous energy level and developed into one of the Indians' leading hitters.
She said she has been inspired by her grandfather, Phil Engle, to continue to work toward her goal of playing at the college level.
"My grandpa is a very strong man," Griffin said. "I lost my grandma (Rayella Engle on March 1) when she died after battling bladder cancer, but my grandpa has stayed positive and he's always there to support me. Seeing what my grandparents have gone through shows me that I have it easy because there's always something out there that can be worse.
"I've definitely learned that I should never take anything for granted because it can be taken away from me at any time. I can no longer eat bread, but I'm so grateful that I'm healthy again and I can still play softball."
Girls track team wins home meet
The girls track and field team scored 99 points to win the Milt Will Relays on May 1.
Canal Winchester, which won five events, finished ahead of Pickerington Central (85), Fairfield Union (83), Pickerington North (69), Bexley (56), London (33) and Worthington Christian (30).
Finishing first were the 400-meter shuttle hurdle relay of Gretchen Rosch, Kayanna Davie, Megan Tamasovich and Jocselyn Powell (program- and meet-record 1 minute, 4.7 seconds), the sprint medley relay of Rosch, Ashley Mavis, Julia Blum and Powell (program-record 1:52.5), the pole vault relay of Rosch, Morgan Jenkins and Davie (25 feet, 6 inches), the long jump relay of Blum, Jessica Wolford and Miaya Green (41-10 3/4) and the 400 relay of Mavis, Wolford, Destiny Chester and Blum (50.8).
Rosch cleared a program-record 11-6 in the pole vault.
The boys team finished second (94) in the Milt Will Relays behind Pickerington Central (132) and ahead of Bexley (88), Fairfield Union (60), Worthington Christian (29) and London (21).
Finishing first were the 800 relay of Trae Johnson, Willy Totten, Lonzell Feagin and Elijah Miller (1:33.2) and the high jump relay of Jermil Powell, Feagin, and Robert Moore (17-4).
Baseball team has busy week in league play
The baseball team was scheduled to play five OCC-Cardinal games this week.
Canal Winchester was 8-11 overall and 4-6 in the league after losing to Westerville North 2-0 on May 5. It also had league games May 6 against Jerome and May 7 against Dublin Scioto and is expected to conclude league play with games Thursday, May 8, at Jerome and Friday, May 9, at home against Scioto.
The Indians lost to Westerville North 7-2 on May 1 in their only game last week. Sam Stanley drove in both of their runs.