By Barbara Boxleitner
Daily Light Correspondent
Peyton Graham's transition to college baseball was smooth.
The Waxahachie High School graduate emerged as a productive player before the pandemic ended his first season for University of Oklahoma.
One of four position players to start all 18 games, he batted .358 with three home runs and 10 runs batted in. He led the squad with eight stolen bases in nine attempts.
"He's got a lot of God-given ability," Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson said. "He's a superstar in the making."
Graham managed a hit in 14 games and finished the season with a six-game hitting streak. He had at least two hits in nine games, with a season-high three hits, including two doubles, in five at-bats against Virginia.
Johnson said Graham stayed in control of himself and didn't try to do too much at the plate. "He's very routined," he said. "His aptitude is really high."
The third baseman attributed his offensive success to "getting to hit against one of the best pitching staffs in the country" — his teammates — during the fall, which prepared him to face opponents he said throw 95 mph plus.
During the fall he made a minor adjustment to his batting stance. Graham said he didn't have as wide a stance "for the sake they (pitchers) were throwing a lot harder" than those in high school and didn't have as big a leg kick.
Though recruited as a shortstop, he realized in the fall that third base was the best spot for him to gain playing time because a senior who had started at shortstop since his freshman year had returned. He finished with a .970 fielding percentage in 33 chances.
"The only thing that was different was the throw," he said, noting that he positioned himself even with third base when a faster hitter was at the plate and five to 10 feet behind the bag when defending against a slower batter who hit the ball hard.
Johnson said Team USA officials contacted him about Graham playing for Team USA this summer, but that was unlikely because of uncertainty created from the pandemic. Instead, Graham said he is supposed to begin playing in the California Collegiate League this month.
Lauren Lafitte played in 14 games for Texas College. The sophomore out of Red Oak High had six rebounds, five assists and three points.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at email@example.com.