Some softball pitchers in the Division II West Region are workhorses.
Some could be labeled strikeout queens.
Others head a deep, supportive bullpen.
Then there's Cal State Stanislaus ace Jessica Gaumnitz, who fits none of those categories, yet is one of the most feared hurlers in the West Region Tournament.
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Gaumnitz, who boasts a 17-7 record and 1.88 ERA, has been a steady force for the Warriors, who open their bid for a second consecutive region championship today in Arcata. Stanislaus, seeded second, plays No. 7 Seattle at 11:30 a.m.
The Warriors (30-21) are just five days removed from winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship with a title-game victory that saw Gaumnitz at her finest. The junior from Chowchilla entered the game in a relief role and pitched seven innings of one-hit ball against San Bernardino, which led the CCAA in nearly every offensive category.
Stanislaus won 4-1 in 11 innings, ending it with a home run by Alyssa Guzman. Gaumnitz felt a whole range of emotions when she heard the crack of Guzman's bat in the bottom of the 11th.
"I was definitely relieved I didn't have to pitch anymore," Gaumnitz said. "I didn't see it go out, but I knew it was a hit. Either way I knew we were going to score."
Gaumnitz was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, picking up all three wins. She allowed six hits in 18 innings, striking out 13 and walking just three. Coach Jan Schefkowitz said Gaumnitz was "incredible," especially because she expected to pitch just three innings in relief of starter Jen Arnold. Gaumnitz started rolling along after two innings, and there was no need to switch them again.
"She is dominant," Schefkowitz said. "She's not a big strikeout pitcher, but she makes batters miss."
Gaumnitz was fourth in the CCAA in strikeouts (115) and fourth in called third strikes (43). The Warriors' defense backs her up when opponents get a bat on the ball.
Stanislaus and Seattle are the only teams in the West Region tournament that work primarily with a two-pitcher staff. The others have at least two arms to back up an ace.
Arnold, a sophomore, complements Gaumnitz with a 2.39 ERA, striking out 47 in 155 1/3 innings. As the more experienced upper-classman, Gaumnitz carries the weight of being the No. 1 arm, which she's done well. She's saved three games this season and remained focused under pressure.
Saturday was a prime example of the kind of discipline Gaumnitz possesses. As the game stretched into extra innings, she said she took a deep breath before every pitch, but not so obvious anyone would notice. Batters only see her stone face.
"All Coach wanted me to pitch was three innings," Gaumnitz said. "When we weren't scoring, I just got an adrenaline rush. I tried to hit my spots. I didn't want to give them anything they could take over the fence. As the game went on, I felt I couldn't be stopped."
The Warriors will take "unstoppable" over any other pitching label out there.For live stats, visit warriorathletics.com