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Gaumnitz going global

CHOWCHILLA -- Sometimes numbers only tell part of the story.

Jessica Gaumnitz can attest to that.

The former Chowchilla softball star compiled tremendous stats as a sophomore at Cal State Stanislaus.

Gaumnitz went 26-5 with a 1.77 earned run average and 140 strikeouts.

She followed that up this season with a slightly more pedestrian-looking 18-8 record, 1.86 ERA and 125 strikeouts.

While this season's numbers weren't quite as outstanding, Gaumnitz said she did a lot more to earn them.

"I actually thought I improved this season," Gaumnitz said. "Last year we had really, really good run support.

"I could give up four or five runs and my team was still able to get me the win.

"This year, we just didn't score as much and I had to keep games a lot closer."

Stanislaus coach Jan Schefkowitz agreed.

"We really needed her this year and she really came through," Schefkowitz said. "From start to finish, she was a much stronger pitcher for us.

"She pitched a lot of big games during the season and in the regionals, and she was forced to win a lot of them 1-0.

"I don't know if she could have done it as a sophomore."

Schefkowitz wasn't the only one to notice Gaumnitz's strides out in the circle.

The junior was nominated and chosen for a program called USA Athletes International.

Joined by an All-Star team comprised of NCAA Division I, II and NAIA players, Gaumnitz will represent the U.S. in an international tournament in Holland.

The event runs from July 19-28.

"This year, we'll have about a thousand different athletes participating in seven sports around the world," USAAI representative Chris Lanksbury said.

"The athletes are nominated by coaches, not only because of their on-field abilities, but because of their character, as well."

The only catch is that because the program involves amateur athletes -- they have to pay their own way.

That little stipulation almost ended Gaumnitz's trip before it got started.

Fortunately, Gaumnitz's mother, Debbie, came to her daughter's aid.

"We got the letter about the tournament at the beginning of the softball season," Debbie said. "So we had a little time.

"I put a couple of ads in the Chowchilla paper explaining what we were trying to do.

"It was nice to see the way the community responded."

Despite the community's generosity, it appeared Gaumnitz was going to come up just short of her financial goal.

"For awhile, I didn't think it was going to happen," Gaumnitz said. "This is my first time leaving the country, so when my mom said we had enough, I was pretty excited."

The trip promises to provide plenty of excitement as Gaumnitz faces quite a few unknowns.

"It should be interesting," Gaumnitz said. "The Sonoma State coach is one of the coaches, so I kind of know him.

"And I know some of the people on the team, but I'm pretty much by myself."

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's Jean Rivett will team up with Sonoma State's Jaime Wallin to coach the All-Star squad.

The players will meet for the first time in New York when they board the plane for Europe.

Despite the somewhat unusual circumstances, Schefkowitz believes Gaumnitz is going to thrive.

"Jessica's a very competitive athlete," Schefkowitz said. "Some people might be a little intimidated going into a situation like this where they don't know anyone.

"Once she hits the field, she's going to be just fine."

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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