High School Sports

Enumclaw ace Quinn Breidenbach named 2015 TNT All-Area softball Player of the Year

When Quinn Breidenbach isn’t striking out batters, she’s teaching young girls how to do it.

The junior ace from Enumclaw is a pitching instructor at Total Sports in Buckley, runs pitching clinics, and helps coach girls — mostly 8 and 9 years old — in the Chinook Little League program.

“I want them to be great, and if they love this sport, to stick with it,” Breidenbach said. “I just want to teach them, because, if I can come out of this small town playing this sport and go do it in college, then they can.”

On May 15, when Enumclaw (22-1) played White River, a gaggle of Breidenbach’s pupils, uniformly dressed in the same purple shirt, showed up to watch.

Breidenbach — a University of Massachusetts commit for 2016 — struck out seven, but the three-time defending Class 3A West Central District champion Hornets dropped their only game of the season, 4-2.

Breidenbach didn’t mind too much. Following the final out, she smiled as her students rushed the field to take turns in the circle, practicing their best windmill arm motion.

“Look at them go,” she said. “They’re practically going to be starting next year.”

If Breidenbach’s pitching is at all indicative of her coaching ability, they very well could.

At 15-1 this season, Breidenbach sports a 0.64 ERA in 88 innings pitched, and was selected The News Tribune’s 2015 All-Area fastpitch Player of the Year.

During her three years at Enumclaw, Breidenbach has a career record of 52-6, and has struck out 567 of the 1,369 batters she has faced. Her career ERA is 1.28 in 339 innings.

“Everything she does, she does 100 percent,” Enumclaw coach Mike Eckhart said. “With her coming out, she just battles.”

And when she’s not battling, she’s adding more ammunition to her arsenal.

Breidenbach throws four pitches comfortably — screwball, curveball, riseball and change-up — and recently added two more.

“My dropball is in progress, so it’s slowly getting there,” she said. “And I just got an off-speed curve, which I think is pretty cool.”

The 167 batters Breidenbach has struck out this season probably wouldn’t agree.

“I just throw everything different speeds, different planes, and with some type of spin on it,” she said.

Despite throwing 903 strikes in her 1,301 pitches this season, she considers herself a work in progress.

“I’m not going to strike out everyone,” Breidenbach said. “I think a lot of people put that idea over me, that I’m this star person who can just strike everyone out when I’m just an average pitcher.”

Not the right word for someone averaging 9.8 strikeouts per game, including a career high 18 on April 2 at Peninsula. Breidenbach doesn’t like to take pitching too seriously.

Neither does Eckhart.

“We’ve been working on the slow curveball, and she’s like, ‘I can do it, I can do it,’ ” Eckhart said. “And then we throw it a couple of times and it was garbage, and she just looks at me and starts laughing.”

That’s Breidenbach — she keeps it light.

“She knows that if I look at (catcher) Meagan (Johnson) and go, ‘Great reflexes,’ then she screwed up the pitch,” Eckhart said. “So, that’s usually why we’re laughing at each other.”

Though that rarely happens. She has given up just 34 hits on the season, and is not too shabby at the plate either, hitting .525 with 26 RBIs.

She’ll be integral this weekend as Enumclaw chases its first Class 3A state fastpitch title at Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey — the Hornets lost, 4-2, to Kamiakin in the 2014 championship game. Enumclaw plays Juanita at 9 a.m. Friday in the first round.

“We all know that Quinn is an asset to this team, and we know that she’s doing all she can to help us,” said shortstop Chloe Young following Enumclaw’s 3-2 win over Kelso in the 3A West Central District title game.

Young scored the game-winning run on a wild three-run play that lifted the Hornets in the bottom of the seventh. As the celebration winded down, Breidenbach sat in the dugout and iced her arm following the 203-pitch afternoon that spanned two games.

“It is a job now ... this is what I’m going to college for,” Breidenbach said. “I need to keep on working, and make other people proud, and make my parents proud, and these little girls … and show them that I can do something like that.”