Small college notebook: RaeAnn Garza the face of success for Ohlone College softball - Article, 2014 Ohlone College Renegades Women's Softball

Wednesday, April 16, 2014—Reprinted from San Jose Mercury News.

By Matt Schwab.

When the Ohlone College softball team got together for photographs, pitcher RaeAnn Garza didn't exactly plaster on a happy face.

"She's no-nonsense," Ohlone coach Donna Runyon said of the 5-foot-1 former James Logan High star. "She takes the ball, and she's that focused person. We took team pictures, and she doesn't smile. She just has that serious look. We said, 'Your smile is so pretty, why don't you smile?' She goes, 'Nope, this is my face. This is what I am.'"

Garza, a freshman team captain, has quickly become the face of Renegades softball. Her teammates follow her lead.

She entered the week ranked fourth in the state in wins with an 18-8 record, and she was fifth in strikeouts with 143. Garza also has a .387 batting average, .526 slugging percentage and 23 RBIs, and unlike most catchers and pitchers, she stays out and runs the bases. Surging Ohlone (25-11, 12-4 Coast-North Division) has won 12 of its past 14 games. The Renegades are ranked 10th in Northern California and are in second place in the Coast-North.

Garza, the 2013 Bay Area News Group East Bay Player of the Year, agrees that she has a serious demeanor. Heck, she didn't even smile in her childhood preschool pictures, but she enjoys playing for Runyon and with her teammates.

As for that game face…

"I remember this one play against my friend, and my friend got a hit off me and I smiled," Garza said, "and my teammates were like, 'Oh, my God. This is the first time we've ever seen you smile on the field.'"

In the Renegades' 6-4 win over Napa on Saturday, Garza tossed 3?1/3 innings of one-hit relief to get the victory. She was also 1 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI. None of her success is the least bit surprising to Logan coach Teri Johnson, who currently coaches RaeAnn's younger sister Deanne, a star junior third baseman.

"I knew she'd be a big player up there," Johnson said of RaeAnn, who led the Colts to three North Coast Section Division I softball championships. "She has a winning attitude. She doesn't like to lose. What's the old saying? 'I hate to lose more than I love to win.' That's so true with her."

Garza, who hopes to transfer to either Holy Names or Cal State East Bay, doesn't overpower hitters but keeps them off-balance with movement. Johnson has dubbed her knuckle curveball "The McNasty."

Garza said it took some time for her to adjust to pitching so many games in college. Runyon said she's adjusted to facing tougher competition as well.

"In high school, she could get away with busting the ball fast inside or busting the ball fast outside and using some movement," Runyon said. "In high school, for most teams, if you can get past five hitters then you'll be all right. In college, you've got 7-8-9 who can hit just as hard as 1 through 5."

Deanne Garza entered the week with a stellar .550 batting average and a 1.000 field percentage at Logan. Like RaeAnn, Deanne has steely resolve.

"Yep," Johnson said of Deanne. "Big-time competitor. Big-time heart, winning attitude."

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