An interview with Lethal's Carlton Griffin
Who are you playing with in 2012?
Why do you like the game of softball?
It gives me the opportunity to continue to fuel my competitive drive that still burns inside of me after playing ball in college was over. You get to meet some great friends and people as well while playing.
Who is the best softball player you have ever seen play?
This is going to be long so I hope you have time.
Pitcher – Jimmy Black – The guy weighed 170 pounds soaking wet and could hit a softball as far as anyone. He was also the first pitcher I ever saw that really worked the batters juking and changing speeds. (I use to walk in the box before I hit the ball and one time he juked me until I was about half way to the mound.) Needless to say I changed my batting stance after that so I wouldn't walk in the box.
Best All Around Player – Kenny Carrington – He might weigh 190 and is 6'4". The guy is left handed and can paint the left field line just as well hit one 400 foot. He has some quick hands and Lee Payne speed out of the box to 1st. On the mound he throws a church league spinner about 5 foot off the ground with the nastiest back spin you have ever seen. Ihave seen him shut out some of the best B and C teams locally over the years with that pitch. I truly believe that if his son wasn't born 4 years ago with SMA he would be getting paid to play today. One of the best guys you will ever met and one heck of a softball player.
Hitter – Ron Pearce (DW named him Best Non Conference Player at 2010 A World) – Back in 2000 when I first starting playing he use to swing so hard he would hit himself in the back with bat and it made a loud thud sound. He had amazing bat speed and could hit the ball out opposite field as far as most guys could pull it. I remember at the Rose the first year the Ultra 2 was out he was hitting an Orange Crush and the rest of the guys on our team were hitting the Ultra 2 and we ended up playing 5 games that day and he hit more homeruns than anybody on the team. Talking about taking a knife to a gunfight and he was still hitting it a mile. Guy is in his 40's and still mashing the ball.
Pitcher – Andy Purcell because he is a game changer and it is just fun to watch him pitch and compete. Maybe it's just me but he is getting better as he gets older. He really looks good after all the weight he has dropped.
Hitter – Brett Helmer is just fun to watch hit and play. The guy plays the game the right way and is just an all around great guy. He is the best of the best and yet he talks to everyone like they are his best friend. 2011 had to be his best year statistically he has ever had. His OB % was just amazing. I saw him hit some balls that just disappeared on the big field at the Music City last year.
Power – Greg Connell has the most amazing bat speed and hitting ability I have ever seen. I just love to watch the guy hit a softball. It seems like when a lot of guys are struggling to hit homeruns because of conditions he just blasts them out of there with no problem. His self confidence gives him an advantage over a lot of guys in softball.
Defense – Pesso and Jr. just stand out compared to the rest of the guys. What I like about Jr. is that when he is playing in a backyard tournament he plays defense just like he would at any conference tournament. Pesso made some plays last year that just made you shake your head. Unbelieveable glove!
Homerun Derby – Denny Crine because his swing is so smooth and consistent. It looks like he doesn't even swing and he just hits linedrives 380 to 420 into the stands. I will have to take Tim Cocco if the derby is at Disney because he hasn't won it 3 years in a row for nothing. Cocco is a great guy and one of the good guys in softball.
The Future – Bubba Mack is going to be a star and can't wait to see him hit on a major team where he will get to free swing even more. Chente Granados on defense is already a stud and can't wait to see how good he is going to be in the future. Both these guys are in their early 20's and going to be the future of the game in my opinion.
What is your nickname in softball?
Big C, C Dog, Big Sexy, Mr. Coed
Where do you call home?
Fayetteville, GA (Born and raised) Home of Calvin Johnson
What do you do for a living?
Business Analyst for Delta Community Credit Union (Pretty much I do what DW does but instead of analyzing softball I analyze consumer loan portfolio)
Did you play sports in High School / College / Pro?
Played Basketball and Baseball in High School. Then played Basketball and Baseball in College at Point University. Won the National Championship in 2000 in basketball and that was definitely the highlight of my sports career.
How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?
A friend of mine that played baseball with me in college said hey you want to go play one pitch with me Friday night in softball? I said yes why not and I was instantly hooked. Typical softball guy played league 4 nights a week and one pitch on Friday for the first couple of years. I started playing tournament ball and got picked up one weekend to play with Team Georgia which then became Bestway after a year or two. Played open ball with them for couple years with Mark Knight around 2002 and played against some great teams back then L & L Paint, US Vinyl, Aubrey's, McNair Sports, Vernon's Miken, JW Construction, Jean Shoppe, Speciality Tank, and on and on. We had a lot of fun but we didn't win that many games but it was a great experience for sure. I then started playing C locally for about 4 years then Drew called me in 2010 and said he wanted to play conference last year and wanted me to play. I was totally pumped about it because C level softball was just about dead and it was about impossible to find tournaments to play in. Played the conference last year and now I am hooked for life. Reunited with Mark Knight this year to build Lethal and can't wait for next year.
What position do you play?
1st/C/EH (If someone needs me to throw BP to the other team I will pitch but not very good at it. (They don't call me Biscuit Billy for nothing)
What batting grip do you use?
Standard grip with pinky off the bottom. I am going to try to change to the overlap grip in the offseason since it's the new craze and seems to be working for everybody. I love Wallace grip I think he might have 3 fingers on the bat at most.
What ounce bat, make and model do you use?
Worth Mayhem usually like 27.5 to 28 with .5 ounce endload
What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next softball season?
Typical offseason starts with me gaining 20 pounds after the season up till about Christmas. Then I hit the gym and cardio hard to drop that 20 pounds and a few more before the season starts. As I tell people I work hard to look like this and I think sometimes people never get what I am saying. I put a lot of hard work into just looking average.
What is your favorite sports team?
Georgia Bulldogs all day every day, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and Atlanta Falcons. Since I was 10 years old I have been a huge North Carolina Basketball fan.
What is your favorite sport other than softball?
Basketball by far. It was my first love and I still play in a couple men's leagues locally. It is great conditioning in the offseason. I enjoy to compete and every year it's just a little harder to compete with the new young bucks that are fresh out of college that play in the league. (My boy (Pdub) Phillip White and I always love a good basketball conversation, he still plays the game a lot as well.)
Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
I wouldn't call it a superstition but I always ask for a verbal before I get in the box because if you don't you will get Charlie Brown'd AKA Quick Pitched. I learned that the hard way when I first started playing ball.
What is your most memorable softball moment?
Unfortunately in Men's I haven't won a World title yet so hopefully that is coming in the near future.
I have won 5 Worlds in Coed and the most memorable one was the 2005 USSSA World in Disney with 82 teams in it. We double dipped a team from Maryland called Mix it Up to win the championship on the Braves field at Disney. That was my first experience playing on the big field and every year since I have wanted to get back there to play in the Major. Last year I was able to mark that off my softball bucket list thanks to Drew.
What is the best improvement upper level softball could make?
When Travis leaves the game limit the Major players to 5 per a team so that the field of competition can be leveled out. Until he leaves the game there will not be any changes made. He has too much money invested and in my opinion he has the right to win as many championships as he wants. After all it's a free country. There are only a few sponsors that are willing to shell out the money to compete at that level even if Travis wasn't in the game. One thing I would like to see them do on Championship Sunday next year in the Conference is test everyone's bat out in the open so that all teams can see each and every players bats being tested on all teams.
What is your favorite non-World tournament?
Charity tournament held locally for good friend of mine Kenny Carrington son called the The Fight against SMA (Spinal Muscluar Atrophy). It's a
very serious disease and his son has lived to be 4 after they said he wouldn't make it past 2. This last year was the 4th year of the tournament and he made it a metal bat tournament and it was a blast. It was nice to not hear people yelling about bats all day. Kenny is one of the best guys you will ever meet. Just an outstanding guy!
I have played in the Mullet since 2003 and it has to be my favorite non-World tournaments. Last year was my first year playing in the Smoky and it was the best softball atmosphere I have ever been around.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?
Playing with Mark Knight there are so many because he is always clowning around. One that comes to mind was about 5 years ago we were playing the Unlimited State and Mark was hitting. He hit one and did a bat flip and said boys that's how you hit it right there and walked back to the dugout. The left fielder caught it about 5 foot short of the fence. The look on Mark's face was priceless you just had to be there. Needless to say, to this day we haven't let him live it down.