All District: Softball coach of the year

Johansen coach made a good team much better

Johansen High coach Debbie Guenther felt she had the talent to not only capture the Modesto Metro Conference, but also make a deep playoff run.

"Just about everyone in our starting lineup has been playing travel ball, and you could see the potential was there," said Guenther, The Bee's 2010 Softball Coach of the Year. "We also needed to improve during the season if we were going to to challenge for a section title. That was critical."

So Guenther revamped her staff, bringing in three new assistants -- each ready to teach a skill she felt the team needed:

Steve Drewery, the father of former Oakdale star and Cal pitcher Marissa Drewery, focused on pitchers Lizzie Perez and Melissa Sandoval.

Corey Reid, whose daughter Alicia Reid was a star at Oakdale, worked relentlessly with the infield and stressed aggressive play on the bases.

James Davidson was devoted to the outfield, emphasizing the physical technique and mental aspects -- such as throwing to the right base.

All three have extensive experience with travel ball and they brought a "we're here to win, not just play" attitude.

"Our practices got more intense than some of our games this season," Guenther said. "We approached practice like it was the game. There wasn't any fooling around. The girls were focused on their tasks."

The impact was stunning.

Johansen, with many of the same kids who had lost their playoff opener a year earlier, beat two of the nation's best teams in the playoffs and placed second in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I tournament.