UNION CITY -- RaeAnn Garza doesn't throw that hard, and at 5-foot-1, she's far from physically imposing.
But one of the smallest players on the James Logan High softball team continues to lead the Colts to their biggest wins.
"At first (opposing hitters) are probably like, 'Oh my gosh, she thinks she can pitch, she's so small,' " Garza said. "But I work hard at what I do. I play like I'm big."
Garza's results over an outstanding four-year career as Logan's starting pitcher speak for themselves.
With Garza in the circle, Logan has made the North Coast Section Division I championship game each of the last three years, winning two titles. She's never lost a Mission Valley Athletic League game and owns an overall record of 75-8 over the last 31/2 seasons.
Garza throws mostly junk, using the movement on her pitches to frustrate hitters. She says her riseball, off-speed curveball and screwball are especially effective.
"I try to hit my locations, I never throw the same pitch twice in a row, and I try to learn -- what swing does what. What the batter can and can't do," she said.
But what makes Garza special, longtime Logan coach Teri Johnson says, is her approach.
"I've never had a pitcher in this program who is as mentally tough as Rae Rae is," Johnson said. "She just comes out with the attitude that nobody is going to hit her, nobody is going to get the bat on the ball. She just has a great mental game that you can't coach. You have to come with it."
Johnson didn't predict this kind of success for her star pitcher initially, thinking Garza's size might hold her back.
It didn't take long for Garza to make her mark, though.
"As a freshman I wasn't sure, she was shy and quiet," Johnson said. "All of a sudden the first game she's out there throwing and taking command of the mound, and I knew I had something great in her."
Garza also contributes offensively and has a knack for getting the big hit. In a recent MVAL game against top league rival Newark Memorial, Garza had three hits and was a home run short of hitting for the cycle.
And when the Colts beat Amador Valley 1-0 for the NCS title last June, it was Garza who delivered the game-winning hit -- an RBI triple in the top of the seventh inning.
Garza isn't sure what her future holds just yet. Despite all her success at the high school level, her small size has kept many college coaches away.
For now, she's enjoying the final month of her decorated high school career. With a 13-1 record and 1.05 ERA, Garza is focused on getting the Colts to a fourth straight North Coast Section title game.
"I have a reputation to uphold, and I'm going to do everything I can to do that," Garza said.