“You throw like a girl!” This used to be one of the worst insults a player could hear, but not anymore.
American River College softball pitchers Jessica Heaney, Karolanne Tipton, and Tanya Holguin are proving that guys aren’t the only ones who can bring the heat.
“(Having three great pitchers is) a luxury not a lot of schools have” said Coach Lisa Delgado.
The Beavers pitchers, who started the season 7 – 0 are ranked third in the Big Eight with a 2.72 earned run average.
“We are very lucky, (Tipton) had a full ride scholarship to California State University Monterey Bay, (Holguin) came back here after playing a season at San Diego State University, and (Heaney) played a year at St. Gregory’s in Oklahoma, all Division 1 schools,” said Delgado.
Heaney (3 – 0) has shown the leadership to take the Beavers to the playoffs. With an E.R.A. of 2.30. In five games, Heaney has allowed nine hits, five walks, struck out 18 players, and pitched two complete games. Heaney takes advantage of her ability to squeeze the ball inside the strike zone at high speeds.
“(Heaney) is great, her control and speed, and her ability to throw the ball inside on batters are assets to the team,” said Delgado.
Heaney who had a 1.35 E.R.A. her senior year in 88 innings, while only allowing 22 walks, and finished with a record of 9 – 4. Heaney was awarded an NSR scholarship in 2009 for being an outstanding athlete, having good grades, and most importantly she was of good character and attitude on and off the field.
A few players including Heaney call themselves “Super Sophomores.” They’ve been on a college softball team for three seasons including one red shirt season. “It sucked not being able to play last season, being unable to play softball discouraged me,” said Heaney.
“This season it’s all about balance, finding time to do school work, hang out with friends, and playing softball,” said Heaney.
Tipton, a freshman, is showing being 5 feet 2 inches tall doesn’t affect her play; she has started six games and has an E.R.A. of 2.40, with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings.
“She hits her target 98 percent of the time, if you tell her to go out there and throw a pitch most of the time she can throw it exactly where you want it,” said Delgado.
Tipton played for Cordova High School last season. Her contribution to the team earned her most valuable player. She had an E.R.A. of 1.60 in 122 innings, as well as batting .305.
Holguin is a utility player. Not only is she an asset on the mound, she can also hit, with a batting average of .525. After playing a season for San Diego State University, Holguin decided to return to Northern California and continue her softball career at American River College.
“Her movement is amazing, a hitter could watch her pitch and she will see the seams coming at the bat and it will suddenly dip,” said Delgado.
Holguin brings a versatile role to the Beavers. Her senior year at Woodland High School she had a 1.19 E.R.A. in 59 innings, and batted .421. Holguin was named to the Sacramento Bee All-Metro team all four years of high school.
The Beavers who had a less than ideal pitching season last year, with a 6.27 E.R.A., are now finding balance on the field.
“Last season we struggled with our pitching, we put a lot of pressure on Amber Garcia who pitched 40 games. Most of our pitchers weren’t eligible academically. Now we have three pitchers who each have their own strengths; you see something different with each pitcher put on the mound,” said Delgado.
The success of the team this year has a lot to do with how much time the girls have spent together.
“Chemistry is a big part of the team’s success. If one girl goes to Starbucks, she just doesn’t invite her best friend (on the team), she invites all the girls to go,” said Delgado.
The Beavers take the field again Tuesday, March 13 at Sacramento City College at 3 p.m.