You don’t have to be big or brash to make it as a pitcher.
Paige Goulet, a 5-foot-4 left-hander, has carried the Richland Bombers through important games with a quiet will to win and pitches that can be hard to pin down.
“She’s one of those unsung heroes,” coach Casey Emery said. “It’s not like she’s out there throwing 60 mph. She’s crafty. She hits her spots.”
And Goulet has kept one of the state’s best softball teams on its toes.
As a freshman in 2010, Goulet beat Walla Walla in the district title game. She defeated the Blue Devils again earlier this season and finished CBBN 4A play with a 6-0 record.
“She’s a very controlled pitcher,” Walla Walla assistant coach Arch McHie said. “She locates her pitches very well. She moves the zone as far as she can and sticks there.”
Goulet shares duties in the circle with 5-11 sophomore right-hander Kayla Andrews, a fellow CBBN 4A first-team pitcher. The two have helped the Bombers to a 19-4 record entering Saturday’s CBBN/Greater Spokane League 4A regional tournament at Central Valley High School in Spokane, where they will face Gonzaga Prep in the first round.
Goulet had 29 strikeouts to Andrews’ 49 in league play, but she allowed just 10 earned runs in 36 innings for a 1.94 ERA.
“As a pitcher, I’m kind of in the middle of it all,” Goulet said. “I feel like I set the tone, so when I get down, then everything gets down. I start throwing bad and mistakes start to happen, but I have a great defense behind me, and Kayla’s a great pitcher also, so if I get in any trouble, I don’t have to worry about it.”
Last weekend, Goulet started the district title game against Walla Walla, but she left in the fourth inning as the Blue Devils went on to win 9-2.
“They’re a very good hitting team,” Goulet said. “That’s one thing they can do is hit home runs, whether it’s a changeup, riseball or curveball. I wasn’t expecting the outcome to be what it was. I was hoping we’d come out on top.”
The Bombers could get another chance this weekend. They have faced the Blue Devils in the past two regional finals.
Even though Goulet is not as tall as area aces Ashley Thompson (6-1) and Lindsey Kamphuis (5-10), or former Richland teammate Lindsey Walchli (5-9), she has found other ways to set down the most formidable foes — even reigning 4A state champion Walla Walla.
“When she’s at the top of her game, she basically comes close to unhittable,” Emery said. “When she hits her locations, if she starts getting ahead in the count on hitters, we can go to her full repertoire. When that happens, you don’t want to hit against her. You don’t know what’s coming next. She comes with a fastball or curveball, which is probably her fastest pitch, all of a sudden, it’s by you.”
Her varied arsenal has helped Goulet come to terms with the one thing she can’t control.
“A little more height would be nice, but there’s nothing I can do about that,” Goulet said. “I just have to do what I can do. If I had longer legs and longer arms, maybe I’d be faster. I’m able to put a lot of movement on my pitch, which helps.
“But it would be nice to be a little taller.”
Walla Walla: In raising two softball-playing daughters, Al and Debbie Hamada became all too familiar with scheduling conflicts.
This will be another weekend when they wish they had clones.
Andrea Hamada, a Wa-Hi senior third baseman, will play in the CBBN/GSL 4A regional tournament in Spokane, while older sister Ashley and her Texas Tech teammates are in the Seattle Regional of the NCAA Division I tournament.
The Red Raiders’ first game is at 3:30 p.m. today against Maryland, and they could play all the way into Sunday’s regional title game.
After researching flights and game times, Al and Debbie Hamada made a difficult decision: Because Ashley is a senior, and there’s a possibility she could play her final game this weekend, they will stay with their oldest daughter in Seattle.
Debbie Hamada’s mother will fly to Seattle today to see Ashley play, then head back to Spokane on Saturday to watch Andrea and the Blue Devils go for the 4A regional title.
“We love the kids just as much, one or the other, but we can’t be in two places at once, even though Seattle and Spokane aren’t too far apart,” said Debbie Hamada, who looks forward to watching Andrea play at Central Washington next year.
If Texas Tech reached the Seattle Regional championship game, Andrea Hamada had hoped to see her sister play. But she already has plans for Sunday: serving as the sponsor for her younger cousin at his confirmation.
“I’ll be the person that goes up with him,” she said. “It’s a bummer (to miss her sister’s game), but I promised him.”
Ashley Hamada wishes she and her sister could have reconnected in Seattle, but she is grateful to be back in Washington with the chance to extend her final season.
“When you go to school so far away, playing close to home is not gonna happen very often or at all,” Hamada said. “I was shocked. I was so excited because a lot of family and friends can come, and to top off my senior year would be awesome.”
w Katie Dorsey: 582-1526; firstname.lastname@example.org