It’s not a huge shock that the 2012 State Sophomore of the Year and the 2013 State Junior of the Year gets the numero uno position among California prep softball players this season, but nonetheless it wasn’t a slam dunk choice, either.
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Johanna Grauer from Amador Valley of Pleasanton did everything she was asked both in the circle and at the plate to lead the Dons to a perfect 27-0 record this season, and a CIF North Coast Section Division I championship.
Although her team did not snag the top spot in either the Cal-Hi Sports’ state or Student Sports’ national rankings, finishing as the No. 2 choice in both, the UCLA-bound Grauer will not be wearing a bridesmaid’s dress when it comes to the state’s top honors for a player.
Now, after winning both State Sophomore of the Year honor two years ago and State Junior of the Year last season, the Swedish National Team star has been named the 2014 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State Player of the Year.
With the honor, Grauer becomes only the eighth girl from north of Fresno to win the award since 1974 when Cal-Hi Sports began naming a Ms. Softball State Player of the Year. She’s also only the third Bay Area recipient, joining 2006 winner Amanda Williams (Freedom, Oakley) and 2009 winner Keilani Ricketts (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose).
Besides Williams and Ricketts, Grauer now joins some of the other legends of softball and names she heard in her dreams as a little girl.
“Oh my gosh, it’s awesome,” Grauer responded when told she was joining the all-time greats of softball. “I didn’t even realize they all won the award. Lisa Fernandez, she might be the best player ever, and she’s going to be my coach next season at UCLA. Alicia Hollowell and Anjelica Selden? I’ve heard those names a million times. I know Amanda Williams and Anjelica. We all went to the same pitching coach.”
There were some talented finalists this season, and some were almost Grauer’s equal in the circle, and some had better numbers than she had as a hitter, but none combined the dominance Grauer had in the circle together with leading an unbeaten team in hitting.
The reality is in some years there is a heated debate involving two or more Ms. Softball finalists, and in some years there is little debate. This year, there was some debate since Mission Viejo pitcher Taylor McQuillin was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year, but she was not the top hitter for the top-ranked Diablos.
“She’s the best pitcher and the best player in the nation,” Michelle Carew Classic director and respected softball coach and analyst Lance Eddy said after she mowed down the field in Anaheim this past season.
Grauer had a solid hitting and fielding team behind her, but there wasn’t much doubt she was not only the state’s top player, but was more valuable to her team and its perfect season than any other finalist was to their team.
Between the latter half of the 2013 season and an April 15 win this year at crosstown arch-rival Foothill, Grauer and her high 60’s fastball went 23 games without giving up an earned run. That included the Carew Classic, where she was the MVP, the Queen of the Mountain Tournament, and competition in the very tough East Bay Athletic League.
She finished this season 27-0 with three no-hitters, two one-hitters, an ERA of 0.51 in 191.1 innings pitched, with 290 strikeouts and only 27 walks. Opposing batters hit a paltry .097 against “The Rocket,” as she’s affectionately known by the Amador Valley faithful.
As a batter, she hit .429 with 39 hits and 20 runs batted in.
Something that wasn’t made public is that Grauer finished the season playing the entire CIF North Coast Section playoffs with strep throat.
“I am so happy for her. She is so very deserving,” Amador Valley head coach Teresa Borchard told Cal-Hi Sports when informed her star was named Ms. Softball.
“Johanna has fun and makes the game fun for the other girls,” continued Borchard. “When you have someone that good playing on your team it can be hard for some of the kids that might not play travel ball to connect with a player like that. But Johanna, she’s likeable, shares the credit and doles out praise. Plus, she shared leadership and listened to other team leaders.”
For her career, Grauer finishes with an 89-6 overall record. That’s better than the 90-8 record of Oakley Freedom star Williams, the only other player from the North Coast Section to be named Ms. Softball.
Despite the fact the CIFNCS limits the number of games a team can play prior to the playoffs, meaning Grauer has played around 20-25 games less in her four years than many other top players over the years, her 1,050 career strikeouts is still in Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book territory.
Also, unlike when many of the pitching records with big numbers were set, the girls today hit with much more power than even 10-12 years ago.
And even with the constraint of games, Grauer’s 27-0 record this season does make the record book, as does her streak of 36-straight wins between 2013 and 2014. That number will be high up in the record book list of most consecutive wins.
Between the two Carew Classics the Dons played in this year and last, Grauer was 9-1 combined against the nation’s top teams. In her sophomore year, she beat five very good opponents handily and was the MVP of the Livermore Stampede, Northern California’s top tournament.
Despite the fact the East Bay Athletic League is one of the state’s toughest in softball, it gets its first Ms. Softball winner, Johanna “The Rocket” Grauer.
ALL-TIME LIST CAL-HI SPORTS
MS. SOFTBALL STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2014 — Johanna Grauer, Pleasanton Amador Valley P-DH
2013 — Kylie Reed, Norco INF
2012 — Emily Lockman, Norco P
2011 — Lauren Sweet, Corona Santiago C
2010 — Jessica Hall, Chino Hills Ayala P
2009 — Keilani Ricketts, San Jose Archbishop Mitty P-DH
2008 — Jessica Spigner, Valencia P-SS
2007 — Jordan Taylor, Valencia P
2006 — Amanda Williams, Oakley Freedom P
2005 — Katie Cotta, Linden P-DH
2004 — Anjelica Selden, Travis AFB Vanden P
2003 — Lisa Dodd, San Diego University City P-DH
2002 — Alicia Hollowell, Fairfield P
2001 — Marissa Marzan, Fresno Bullard P
2000 — Jamie Southern, Clovis, P-INF
1999 — Andrea Vidlund, Orangevale Casa Roble, P
1998 — Amanda Freed, Garden Grove Pacifica, P
1997 — Amanda Freed, Garden Grove Pacifica, P
1996 — Amanda Scott, Clovis P
1995 — Courtney Dale, Fresno Bullard P (Jr.)
1994 — Sara Griffin, Simi Valley P
1993 — Sara Griffin, Simi Valley P
1992 — Leah O’Brien, Chino Don Lugo P
1991 — Jennifer Brundage, Irvine P
1990 — Karen Jackson, Roseville P
1989 — Lisa Fernandez, Lakewood St. Joseph P
1988 — Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia P
1987 — Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia P
1986 — Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia P
1985 — Jackie Oakley, Huntington Beach Ocean View P
1984 — Samantha Ford, Newhall Hart P
1983 — Shawn Andaya, Lodi P
1982 — Kandy Foust, Santa Maria Righetti P
1981 — Tracy Compton, Santa Maria Righetti P
1980 — Tracy Compton, Santa Maria Righetti P
1979 — Mary Lou Ramm, Chula Vista Hilltop P
1978 — Teri Young, El Segundo P
1977 — Karen Andrews, San Diego Henry P
1976 — Jan Jeffers, Lompoc P
1975 — Barbara Reinalda, Cerritos Valley Christian P
1974 — Barbara Reinalda, Cerritos Valley Christian P
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend