Call her talented. Call her a rebel. Just don’t call her Peyton.
Most anywhere you go around Oktaha, they call this young sophomore Leroy. Why? She just laughs as she answers.
“When I was little, for some reason I refused to respond when someone called my name. So one day, (probably out of frustration), my dad called out “Leroy” and I answered “What?” and the name has stuck ever since,” she giggled.
Even softball coach Kia Holmes had to stop for a minute when asked about Peyton.
“Nobody calls her Peyton. I even had to stop and think for a second when you asked about Peyton. But seriously, she’s one of those kinds of players that coaches love to coach. She’s gritty and hard-nosed and she plays with the kind of mentality that you more normally associate with guys,” said Holmes. “She’s a pretty phenomenal softball player who never takes a play off and has all the tools to be great. And she’s just a sophomore.”
‘Leroy’ grew up watching her aunt play and that’s how she got interested in pursuing it further and started playing when she was four. As she explored what position she fit into, that rebel streak of hers surfaced again.
“I started playing catcher because people told me I was too small to do it and I wanted to prove them wrong,” chuckled Bryant.
And her head coach, who has seen a lot of talented girls come through Oktaha’s successful softball program, is certainly glad that she stuck with it.
“I’m actually blessed to have two excellent catchers in Peyton and Brynn Surmont and they alternate catching and playing third base. Peyton is definitely one of the best I’ve ever coached, particularly for her age. She can hit for power, seldom strikes out and, as former catcher myself, I really appreciate the job she does behind the plate and in working with the pretty inexperienced pitching staff we have this year,” said Holmes.
Bryant says she patterns her play after former UCLA catcher Paige Halstead and continues to work on all aspects of her game.
“I feel like I’ve really improved my hitting over the past year. One of my long-range goals is to improve my ‘pop-up’ time (the elapsed time from when a pitch hits her glove until it’s at second base on a steal attempt). Right now it’s 1.68 seconds and by my senior year I want to get it down to 1.60.”
So whether you call her Peyton or Leroy, as she matures another name she’s sure to have is winner.