As the season wore on and the pressure to stay unbeaten mounted for the young Amador Valley High softball team, pitcher Johanna Grauer didn't crack.
Instead, she thrived.
"When we were on that undefeated streak, you don't want to lose," the 5-foot-6 sophomore said. "There's more pressure on you every single game and I like the pressure, I kind of build off of it."
Confident and powerful, Grauer emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers to grace an East Bay softball field in many years.
She consistently baffled opposing hitters with her arsenal of pitches, including a 64 mph fastball, as the Dons garnered recognition as one of the top teams in the country. After pitching Amador Valley to a 26-1 record and recording shutouts in 19 of her 25 complete games, Grauer has earned Bay Area News Group East Bay Player of the Year honors.
Not only did Grauer finish with a 0.33 ERA and an average of just under two hits allowed per game (48 total), just putting the ball in play against her was a major challenge. She fanned 328 batters in 171 innings -- more than 13 strikeouts per game.
"Obviously, I try to get the outs, but I'm really competitive. The first goal, honestly, is I just want to strike everyone out," said Grauer, who also had a .356 batting average.
Even in her one loss, Grauer was dominant. She tossed a three-hitter with 17 strikeouts in the North Coast Section Division I title game, but lost 1-0 to James
As a freshman, Grauer split time in the circle with teammate Krista Williams before dazzling in three playoff appearances.
Grauer continued to improve last summer and fall -- adding velocity and movement on her pitches -- as she played with a traveling team. She caught the attention of college coaches, and in October she gave an oral commitment to Arizona State, which has two NCAA softball titles in the past five seasons.
In high school, She earned MVP honors of the East Bay Athletic League as well as the Livermore Stampede and Queen of the Mountain tournaments.
"The kid has amazing composure in the circle," Amador Valley coach Julie Marshall said after the NCS title game. "She has that talent already at such a young age, and she's gotten so much better just over the past year. It's going to be amazing to see where she goes the next couple years."