The Rocket has got it
Just like he does at every Amador Valley (Pleasanton) game the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan has covered the past four years, Robbie, the world’s greatest Dons softball fan, starts his loud banter in the top of the first inning and doesn’t stop until star UCLA-bound pitcher Johanna Grauer records the final out.
“Come on Jo, come on Johanna, come on kid, come on rocket, you’ve got it,” he shouts repeatedly over and over.
More often than not “The Rocket” does have it. Like Tuesday afternoon in a 1-0 victory over East Bay Athletic League rival Danville Monte Vista.
The team was a little sluggish, and why wouldn’t they be a little drained physically and emotionally. The girls were just a couple of days removed from winning the top girls softball tournament in California when they captured the Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim.
“We practiced hitting yesterday but the girls were tired so we took it light and it showed. We were extremely flat,” Amador Valley head coach Teresa Borchard told Cal-Hi Sports.
Overall the Dons may have been a little unexciting offensively, but the way Robbie works her Grauer cant let up in the circle or at the plate.
She was perfect through four innings and 38 of her 46 pitches were strikes. The Dons leading hitter also singled in Nicole Yozzo (3-for-3, run scored, four stolen bases) in the bottom of the first inning for the game’s only tally.
Unfortunately the Caravan’s reputation as Mr. Kibosh reared its ugly head. No sooner did a Tweet go out about Grauer being perfect through four innings than the lead-off batter in the top of the fifth promptly singled.
Monte Vista senior cleanup hitter Marissa Maddox got the single and she duplicated it with a seventh-inning two-out single before Grauer fanned the next batter causing Robbie to explode with glee.
“We knew what we were up against but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling it,” Maddox remarked with a smile. “I’ve been waiting to get a hit against her since I was a freshman.”
Not only did Grauer only give up the two singles, she walked none, struck out 14, and 62 of her 78 pitches were strikes. Yet, despite the Caravan noticing she’s added a couple of ticks and is up to the high 60’s on her fastball and riser, and her movement makes her change-up and screwball un-hittable, Grauer didn’t feel she was at her best on Tuesday.
“I didn’t feel it today like I did down there. I was so much better down there.”
Grauer was good enough in Anaheim to have Carew Classic Tournament Director and well-respected longtime Southern California softball coach Lance Eddy declare her the best pitcher in the nation.
“During a span of three games I was at my best,” Grauer said. “Murrieta Valley (Murrieta), Great Oak (Temecula) and Esperanza, with Esperanza my best game.”
“Los Alamitos (title game) was interesting,” Grauer continued. “I was a little tired and I wasn’t getting as many strikes. I’m proud of myself because I had to dig deep.”
Grauer gave up a season-tying high three hits and walked a season-high five against Los Alamitos, but she struck out eight and gave her team a chance against a tough Southern California opponent.
When catcher Victoria Molina plated two in the sixth inning Grauer’s grit and determination allowed the Dons to pull out a 2-1 victory.
Grauer is 13-0 and now has a streak of 93.1 innings without giving up an earned run (144 strikeouts) against a lot of the top teams in both Southern and Northern California. She’s also batting .326 with seven runs batted in.
“Come on Jo, come on Johanna, come on kid, come on rocket, you’ve got it.”
The Rocket has certainly got it all right.