If this whole softball thing doesn't work out over the next few years, Madison Grimm may want to start her own meditation business.
Grimm became the team's ace in her two years at Manchester Valley, which went from a county also-ran to a two-time state champion. And the Mavs' best player mixed passion with pause whenever it was needed.
Big-time nerves before a county clash? Deep breaths.
A nailbiter to keep their winning streak alive? Take it easy, it's softball. It's supposed to be fun.
Stepping on the field at Maryland Softball Complex, site of the state championship games? Please. No worries. Relax.
Grimm's attitude rubbed off on her teammates, which was just fine with her coaches. And the Times Softball Player of the Year for the second year in a row leaves behind a richer program.
"It seems unreal, to be honest — two-time state champions," Grimm said. "I never thought I would even be a state champion when I went to North Carroll. I mean, I always tried to be, but I never thought it would come true."
The recently graduated Grimm left NC for a chance at more pitching time, something she relished at the high school and tournament level. And when she arrived in Manchester, the softball program could be described as, well, grim.
Last year's state championship helped change the culture, and when the bulk of the roster returned for another title run, Grimm couldn't wait to get started.
"I've been on bad teams in the past, like on club teams and stuff, so I know what it's like to be the underdog," she said. "So coming over and having fun ... that really helped. This year we focused more on just having fun and ignoring the target on our back."
Having an ace certainly helps, too.
Grimm led the county in wins (18), strikeouts (210), and ERA (0.75), making it tough on any opposing lineup. When she wasn't keeping the other team from scoring, Grimm did her best to help her own cause.
She hit .463 (sixth highest in the county) with nine doubles (seventh most) and 32 RBIs (third most).
Manchester Valley's lineup was downright lethal, with all-county players up and down. And their talent was infused with a heavy dose of confidence, thanks in part to Grimm.
"She's always positive and she never gets down on herself," said junior catcher Kayla Geho, who had 55 RBIs for MV. "She was a senior and everyone was looking up to her. Whenever Madison pitched, it was always a good game. It was awesome catching her. Everything was a lot easier when she was out there."
Easier because Grimm had command of six pitches, mixing drops and change-ups with her already-dominant fastball and rise ball. But also because the senior instilled her own way of staying loose.
"In the [pitcher's] the circle, we would take deep breaths sometimes before we went out and played," Grimm said. "Because everyone gets so tied up in the game, and they don't get a chance to take that deep breath and relax."
She used that approach many times this spring in guiding MV to a 19-4 record and a second consecutive Class 1A crown.
She struck out 14 batters in the Mavs' 3-2 win at Liberty on April 27, earning a regular-season split with the county champion Lions. Man Valley reached the 1A West final against Allegany, and Grimm fanned 17 to pace a 7-0 victory.
The state title game was a rematch with Sparrows Point, who Grimm dominated a year ago. She did it again this time, firing a five-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts as Manchester Valley won 11-0 (she drove in four runs as well).
"Madison brought to the Manchester program the confidence and ability to win every game when stepping on the field … that no one could beat the Mavericks," MV coach Mike Hernandez said. "Domination. She brought a winning attitude and led the team to complete all goals and intentions."
Grimm's next step is Hofstra, where she'll begin a new softball chapter. Grimm said spending all summer training and playing tourney ball with the Heartbreakers, her Frederick-based travel team, will help her prepare for Division I play.
So, too, will a calm demeanor — something with which Grimm seems to excel.
"Once the confidence set in with the team, that they're not going to lose every game ... they started playing the best they could," Grimm said. "Last year everyone was still like, 'We're just going to lose,' and we didn't expect anything out of it. But this year they really had high goals and they were just having fun and playing softball.
"Everyone wanted to play, and everyone wanted to win states. And that really helped a lot. Everyone had the same goal this year."