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The performance pitching sensation Johanna Grauer of state No. 6-ranked Pleasanton Amador Valley in a 10-inning 2-0 victory over California of San Ramon last Thursday was not only a display of her tremendous power from the circle, but of her ability to handle the bat as well.
Besides pitching a one-hitter with 19 strikeouts, and reaching 68 miles per hour on her fastball, Grauer showed the offensive power she provided last season as the Cal-Hi Sports State Sophomore of the Year. It’s the kind of muscle at the plate.however, that has been sorely missed by her team for a good portion of this season.
With catcher Victoria Molina on third after being placed there by international rules, and advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Samantha Salustri, Grauer unloaded on a 2-2 pitch by California pitcher Lindsey Chalmers and deposited it 220 feet away and over the fence for a walk-off home run. It was just her first round-tripper this season.
“Our hitting has really been picking up and Johanna has been hitting,” Amador Valley head coach Teresa Borchard told Cal-Hi Sports.
“Finally,” Grauer said, smiling and sighing at the same time, about hitting her first home run. “Since the second half of EBAL I’ve been starting to hit.”
After an extremely slow start, Johanna is now batting .286,and with the two RBIs she now has 10, with eight coming in the last six games.
While Borchard and the girls are happy to see Grauer hit, it’s in the circle where she is one of the most feared pitchers in the nation.
The 24 consecutive batters she mowed down in the California win doesn’t make the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book threshold of two-straight perfect games. In fact, the Arizona State-bound junior that committed as a freshman, didn’t even throw a perfect game.
What the girl who resembles Cal’s Jolene Henderson in looks and mannerisms in the circle did do was give up a walk in the first inning after striking out the first batter and then the final two, and then she gave up an infield hit on a weak tapper in the third.
From then on, Grauer, or “Rocket” as one of Amador Valley’s heartiest fans shouts before every pitch, was virtually un-hittable.
The problem for her and her Dons’ teammates was they couldn’t hit Cal Poly-committed junior Chalmers of state No. 16-ranked California. Chalmers had already beaten them 1-0 on April 16 to end a string of close Dons’ victories over the past two-plus seasons, including a 1-0 victory in the title game of the Queen of the Mountain tournament in mid-March.
After the infield single in the third, no other balls left the infield for the remainder of the game.
“We had a plan to hit Grauer, it just didn’t work out,” a disconsolate California head coach Joe Callaway remarked.
“She’s one of the best out there,” said noted Southern California travel ball coach Bret Denio, who’s also an analyst for ESPN, and someone we call on occasionally for overall statewide analysis and info from the Southland.
“Johanna has all the pitches,” continued Denio. “She has great spin on her ball, especially her rise ball. She will be a great asset for ASU and will step right in for the Sun Devils when Dallas (Escobedo) graduates.”
Right now, Grauer is concerned about winning another league title, and then there’s the playoffs before travel ball and her senior season.
Going into Tuesday’s San Ramon Valley game, Grauer has some unbelievable pitching stats.
Since the loss to California, Johanna hasn’t given up a run in seven games, and she’s only given up four hits and three walks with 89 strikeouts. There have been three no-hitters with no walks, but no perfectos in the span that includes a no-hitter with no walks and 18 strikeouts in the San Ramon Valley victory.
“She was real close to perfect a couple of times,” noted Borchard.
On the season, Grauer is 19-2 with a 0.09 ERA that’s based on giving up only two earned runs. She also has 250 strikeouts and only 18 walks.
Those are the kind of numbers that have her as a leading candidate for State Junior of the Year, plus perhaps Ms. Softball State Player of the Year.
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