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One through nine, they can hit. One through nine, they can play defense. One through nine, they can run the bases. However, when they win, itís as a team. It goes without saying that the 2011 James Logan Lady Colts softball team is a very special group.
A fundamentally sound and fun group to watch, the Lady Colts are just a few steps away from repeating as the Division I North Coast Section champions. Thus far, they are 22-3 and have not lost in Mission Valley Athletic League play since 2009. Thatís a winning streak of 24 games.
While itís hard to pinpoint just one player on head coach Teri Johnsonís squad, itís easy to find spot the one that helps to set the table on both sides of the ball. And that happens to be sophomore pitcher and lead-off hitter Raeann Garza.
In just her second season on the varsity roster, Garzaís stat line speaks for itself. A .430 batting average and an on-base percentage of .472 makes her a threat to reach base every time she steps into the batterís box. The sophomore has also developed quite the knack for getting herself into scoring position as she leads the Lady Colts with four triples and is second with six doubles.
After defeating Castro Valley in the NCS quarterfinals, the right hander is on an eight winning streak. During these past eight games, her batting average has been a majestic .520.
On the mound, Garza has progressed into a Greg Maddux-type of a pitcher. Instead of relying heavily on her velocity, she has leaned more on placing her pitches, inducing ground balls and letting the superb defense behind her put her pitch count at ease.
Also pivotal points worth mentioning in her accuracy from the circle are her walk count and what hitters are hitting against her. Through 25 games this season, Garza has allowed a piffling 15 walks and has hitters batting .212 against her.
If Garzaís efforts continue to shine, then Logan may very well repeat as NCS champs. Two MVAL titles and two NCS championships in two years could be quite the accomplishment for any high school player, let alone a sophomore. And itís because of these numbers and her continuous efforts on the diamond that the Tri-City Voice has chosen Garza as the Female Athlete of the Month for June. After Loganís semifinal 3-2 victory against Heritage on June 1, Garza was kind of enough to answer a few questions for us.
TCV: How did you get involved in softball?
RG: (chuckling) I didnít have a choice. My brother played baseball, so my parents put me into baseball. And then I heard that there was baseball for girls, so I wanted to be in that.
TCV: Have you played any sports other than softball?
RG: I used to play soccer when I was younger, but I had to choose between one of them.
TCV: Aside from being a pitcher, have you played any other positions?
RG: Iíve played shortstop.
TCV: What do you like about being a pitcher the most?
RG: That I can basically control the game. Like, if I can strike everybody out, then we can win.
TCV: Who are your biggest influences in your personal life?
RG: Definitely my coach and my dad. My dad pushes me big time and a lot of these (Logan) players too.
TCV: How about professionally? Any athletes out there you look up to or model your game after?
RG: I like Cat Osterman.
TCV: Do you feel any pressure being the sophomore and being the one the team looks to?
RG: Definitely, I feel like I really need to pull through.
TCV: What has been your most memorable playing softball?
RG: Going undefeated in league twice because thatís a big deal.
TCV: How amazing was it winning NCS as a freshman last year?
RG: It was a big deal, it really was. It helped pump up our confidence big time.
TCV: What do you think separates Logan from other high school softball teams?
RG: Coach (Teri) Johnson. She pushes us so hard, sheís nuts sometimes but sheís a really big deal.
TCV: When your career is all said and done at Logan, what do you hope to take away from it all?
RG: I hope to take away four NCS championships and just good memories.
TCV: Do you got any favorite classes in school?
RG: I like history a lot.
TCV: When youíre not busy wrapped up in a game or in practice, what do you like to do with your spare time?
RG: Friends. Just go hang out with my friends.
TCV: What are some of your personal favorites in music, food, movies and television?
RG: I like scary movies. Iím kind of a picky eater, Iím always trying to put on a few more pounds. And music, I like hip hop and R&B. I donít watch a lot of T.V.
TCV: Do you have any superstitions or rituals you like to perform heading into a game?
RG: I have to be wearing this chain (shows the chain around her neck). Our team has so many that itís ridiculous. Like, Iím not big on superstitions but I do always wear this chain.