Quinn Breidenbach knows she isn’t the most imposing player out on the field. But when she releases the softball in a flash of maroon and gold, all eyes are on her.
Enumclaw High’s sophomore ace, who stands just under 5-foot-7, leads her team into the Class 3A state tournament with a perfect 25-0 record. The Hornets open play against Holy Names Academy at noon Friday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
“Growing bigger and stronger will come with time,” Breidenbach said. “I’m not the biggest girl in the world (but) I’ve always been able to throw the ball hard.”
Entering last weekend’s district tournament, where Enumclaw defended its Class 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict crown, Breidenbach had a 0.28 ERA and was batting .550 with a team-high 34 RBIs.
But personal stats are the furthest thing from her mind, even as she holds scholarship offers from a pair of Division I schools.
“I want to make a difference,” Breidenbach said. “And not just in the circle. I’d rather lead in RBI than in home runs.”
Breidenbach was a 3A South Puget Sound League first-team selection in 2013 and this season’s pitcher of the year.
“And she’s not done,” Enumclaw coach Mike Eckhart said. “Junior and senior year, she’s going to be even stronger.”
Breidenbach said she started playing pitcher in her Little League days and became “hardcore” in middle school.
“I love it,” she said. “If I have the bases loaded ... I would rather have that every time. I want to make that big play and get that big out.”
And when she’s relaxed, those moments come at upward of 65 miles per hour, Eckhart said.
“Last year, when she missed, she missed bad,” he said. “Poor Becky (Forza), our catcher, was all over the place. Now Quinn is only missing by fractions. She has settled down.”
“I can tell that I am way more confident in the circle,” she said. “I have had a year to work on my spins and have confidence in my pitches.”
The aspiring pediatric nurse said she knows the importance of maintaining her 4.0 grade-point average. She already holds offers from Seattle University and the University of Massachusetts, and plans to choose a college in July.
She also plays year-round club ball for the Puyallup-based Washington Ladyhawks.
“I have those days where it’s just mentally and physically draining, but I have my goal in mind,” she said. “I want to play college ball.”
Breidenbach admitted she broke down in last year’s 10-8 loss to Meadowdale in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Enumclaw built an 8-5 lead before falling in extra innings.
“I didn’t trust my spin, and I lost it,” she said. “I needed to have confidence in myself.”
Coming into this season, the Hornets vowed to not endure a repeat of last year’s debacle.
“We have to play our ball and up to our level and not sink down and get overly excited, because that’s when we make errors,” Breidenbach said.
And if they succeed at that?
“I think we have everything we need,” she said, “to go out there and win it.”