OTTUMWA — Sometimes, the stars align at just the right time to bring the right decision into focus.
Morgan Greiner was on the verge of signing a letter of intent to play junior college softball next season at Kirkwood Community College. Thanks to a coaching change at the Cedar Rapids school, Greiner re-examined her options.
On Tuesday, Greiner made it official. The all-state slugger for the Ottumwa Bulldogs is going to be spending at least two more years playing softball in her hometown after signing with Indian Hills Community College on Tuesday, the second official signee inked by first-year IHCC head softball coach Lindsey Diehl.
"I had (verbally) committed there (at Kirkwood) before their coach left, but with such a great new coach coming to Indian Hills, it made the decision so much easier," Greiner said. "I hadn't really looked at Indian Hills until after I started looking again. (Ottumwa head softball coach) Frank (Huston) really likes Lindsey. It made the choice of Indian Hills feel like the right decision for me."
Huston, who just wrapped up his 52nd season as an Iowa High School head softball coach, has seen in person much of Diehl's career as a player and head coach at Clarke High School as well as her two years playing at Indian Hills.
"You usually coach like you play and she was an outstanding player," Huston said. "We'll expect the same thing from her as a head coach at Indian Hills. I'm sure glad Morgan is with her."
Diehl, who led Clarke to a Class 3A state softball title in 2014 qualifying that year for state at Frank Huston Field in Ottumwa, talked about the endorsement of the second-winningest all-time head softball coach with 1,820 victories after guiding OHS to a 28-11 record this past summer.
"When I was playing at Indian Hills, we had an Ottumwa player on the team. You could tell the difference in having that experience of being coached by Frank and experiencing some of the success he's experienced," Diehl said. "I've always kind of felt like an Ottumwa kid myself having gone through the Indian Hills program. I'm really fortunate that we're able to keep that tradition between our two programs going with a player the caliber of Morgan joining us."
Greiner joins Cedar Rapids Jefferson shortstop Tiffany Unkel as the first two official signees for Diehl as IHCC head softball coach. Diehl officially accepted the position back on July 10, the day Greiner and the Bulldogs dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 eight-inning regional final to eventual 5A state tournament runner-up Indianola.
"There's 10 more players I need to sign. We've decided to cut off the incoming class at 12," Diehl said. "I like the arms that are coming in. I like the power that is coming in and the speed that we're going to mix in with that. I'm not only excited for the seniors that we're going to sign, but some of the juniors from around the area that we're looking to talk to down the road as well.
"There's no rest for the weary. I like winning. I definitely feel like I've got my legs underneath me now as the head coach of this program."
In Greiner, Indian Hills has a player that created plenty of offense for the Bulldogs this past year out of the No. 2 hole in the batting order. Greiner earned first-team all-state honors for her bat as well as the glove, committing just four errors at third base this season while hitting .466 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs, setting the stage for what could be a special senior season as Ottumwa enters 2019 with expectations of earning a trip to the state softball tournament.
"Morgan likes to play the game of softball and has a very high softball I.Q.," Huston said of Greiner. "I think that transforms itself over to the excitement she has to play the game and wanting to move forward with her career.
"Knowing that I get to play two more years of softball is fun," Greiner added.
Scott Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CourierScott.