When the Ohlone College softball team got together for photographs, pitcher RaeAnn Garza didn't exactly plaster on a happy face.

"She's no-nonsense," Ohlone coach Donna Runyon said of the 5-foot-1 former James Logan High star. "She takes the ball, and she's that focused person. We took team pictures, and she doesn't smile. She just has that serious look. We said, 'Your smile is so pretty, why don't you smile?' She goes, 'Nope, this is my face. This is what I am.' "

Garza, a freshman team captain, has quickly become the face of Renegades softball. Her teammates follow her lead.

She entered the week ranked fourth in the state in wins with an 18-8 record, and she was fifth in strikeouts with 143. Garza also has a .387 batting average, .526 slugging percentage and 23 RBIs, and unlike most catchers and pitchers, she stays out and runs the bases. Surging Ohlone (25-11, 12-4 Coast-North Division) has won 12 of its past 14 games. The Renegades are ranked 10th in Northern California and are in second place in the Coast-North.

Garza, the 2013 Bay Area News Group East Bay Player of the Year, agrees that she has a serious demeanor. Heck, she didn't even smile in her childhood preschool pictures, but she enjoys playing for Runyon and with her teammates.

As for that game face ...


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"I remember this one play against my friend, and my friend got a hit off me and I smiled," Garza said, "and my teammates were like, 'Oh, my God. This is the first time we've ever seen you smile on the field.' "

In the Renegades' 6-4 win over Napa on Saturday, Garza tossed 31/3 innings of one-hit relief to get the victory. She was also 1 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI. None of her success is the least bit surprising to Logan coach Teri Johnson, who currently coaches RaeAnn's younger sister Deanne, a star junior third baseman.

"I knew she'd be a big player up there," Johnson said of RaeAnn, who led the Colts to three North Coast Section Division I softball championships. "She has a winning attitude. She doesn't like to lose. What's the old saying? 'I hate to lose more than I love to win.' That's so true with her."

Garza, who hopes to transfer to either Holy Names or Cal State East Bay, doesn't overpower hitters but keeps them off-balance with movement. Johnson has dubbed her knuckle curveball "The McNasty."

Garza said it took some time for her to adjust to pitching so many games in college. Runyon said she's adjusted to facing tougher competition as well.

"In high school, she could get away with busting the ball fast inside or busting the ball fast outside and using some movement," Runyon said. "In high school, for most teams, if you can get past five hitters then you'll be all right. In college, you've got 7-8-9 who can hit just as hard as 1 through 5."

Deanne Garza entered the week with a stellar .550 batting average and a 1.000 field percentage at Logan. Like RaeAnn, Deanne has steely resolve.

"Yep," Johnson said of Deanne. "Big-time competitor. Big-time heart, winning attitude."

STARNES POWERS PIONEERS: Cal State East Bay baseball center fielder Kelly Starnes, a transfer from Los Medanos College, is having a strong season. Starnes hit two home runs against both Chico State, ranked fifth in Division II, and Cal Poly Pomona, ranked 10th. In California Collegiate Athletic Association play, Starnes is hitting .337 with a .500 slugging percentage. A former Concord football and baseball player, Starnes was selected in the 40th round by the Minnesota Twins in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft.

softball honor: Cal State East Bay junior Kelsey LaVaute was named CCAA Player of the Week in softball. She had three homers and five RBIs as the Pioneers swept a four-game series against Cal State San Bernardino. She is the third Pioneer to receive the CCAA weekly honor, along with Emily Perlich and Jaynie MacDonald.

GREAT GLADIATORS: Chabot baseball coach Steve Friend loves his powerful team's attitude and intellect. Eight Chabot players made the 2014 Academic All-State team: Joey Lucchesi, Brandon San Nicholas, Ryan Foley, Erik Brolin, Brian Hamm, Andrew Ramos, Andre Davis and Michael Johnson. The Gladiators, riding a state-leading 19-game winning streak, have seven early signees with Division I programs. James Carter and Tyler Davis have been named NorCal Players of the Week.

Contact Matt Schwab at mschwab@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/schwab_matt.