Seven-year-old Maliah Grenoble loves to play catch with her dad Brad. Hitting against him is another story.
"My dad hits us, so my mom pitches," Maliah said. Brad and his wife Leah provide pitching for the coach-pitch Tinymiss team.
While Brad Grenoble is not the area pitcher of the year, he is Sauk Valley Media's softball coach of the year. Grenoble directed the Milledgeville Missiles to the Class 1A state championship in his first season on the job.
Who better to manage a team full of girls than a man who manages a household full of them every day. Brad and Leah have four children, all daughters: Taylor, 17; Jade, 14; Maliah, 7; and Lexis, 3.
"I think it helps," Brad said of being a father of four daughters who coaches girls. "Especially this year, with my daughter's good friends. I've coached them since they were little. They're all like daughters to me."
"Having two teenagers, he's able to understand the girls better because of that," Leah said. "When we were younger, you can't imagine being a dad. But, he fell right into the role and matured, just like everyone does."
Taylor, who will be a senior, was the Missiles' starting second baseman.
"I think girls are harder to coach than boys," Taylor said. "Girls are more emotional. You have to get to know them for them to trust you. Having four girls helps a lot with that."
For 3-year-old Lexis, her favorite thing about her dad is simple.
"I love playing catch with him," she said shortly before heading outside to do just that.
Lexis is also proud of the fact that she hits the ball hard and even hit Taylor in the face.
Maliah has taken Brad's hitting tutelage so well, she's had to take her game out of the house.
"I can't hit inside anymore, because I hit too hard because he taught me how to hit," she said.
Taylor cherished winning a state championship alongside her dad.
"I love how he can coach us and be a parent at the same time," she said. "It was so cool to share that experience together. We're going to remember that the rest of our lives, and we did it together."
Jade will be a freshman next season. She's looking forward, albeit a bit anxiously, to her dad coaching her at the high school level.
"I'm a little nervous about it," she said. "I look up to Taylor and her friends that went to state. I want to be taught by my dad to be like them."
If Brad didn't have daughters, he likely would have gone down a different coaching path.
"I think I would coach football or boys basketball, but I had to adapt, and I love it," he said.
Though coaching your own children can be challenging, Brad has thoroughly enjoyed it.
"It's always been positive," he said. "There's times your upset for them, but you can't show it. You have to treat them like the rest, even though it's hard. You have to walk that line. But, when they do something good, I get goosebumps. That's pretty cool."
Though Brad inherited a team that took third place in 1A a year ago, he said it was anything but easy getting back to and winning state, considering the Missiles lost four starters from 2012. They were: shortstop Brandie Gelwicks, center fielder Jestine Imel, left fielder Brooke Kappes and pitcher/designated player Jolee Parks.
The Missiles also had to overcome the mid-season loss of star pitcher Emily Bush, the SVM co-player of the year. Bush came back late in the season.
"These girls had a lot on their shoulders," Brad said. "Everybody said that we should get back to state, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy to replace those girls. Other girls worked hard and stepped up, and we really worked on hitting and defense."
Brad wasn't the only father/coach on the staff. He was assisted by Drew Bush, Emily and Ally's father, and Joe Leddy, Kayleigh's father.
Brad Grenoble file
High school: Milledgeville
Family: Wife, Leah; daughters, Taylor, 17; Jade, 14; Maliah, 7; Lexis, 3
FYI: Guided Missiles to 28-3 record and 1A state championship in first season as coach