After a rocky collegiate start, the leading strikeout pitcher in Pitman High softball history seems to finally have things going her way.
Janessa Guevara, who tops the Pride record board with 624 strikeouts, had a difficult time in her first year at Sonoma State. She decided to drop out of Sonoma and transfer to Delta College for a year.
“I wasn't ready only being 17 years old with a learning disability to manage being a student athlete that is why I transferred, which helped me grow not only on the field but also in the class room,” she said.
Along with the help and support from the school, friends, teammates and family, Guevara said that a huge amount of support while at Delta came from head coach Jim Fisher, who helped her pursue her dreams of playing at a four-year university despite her minor setback.
After a year at Delta, Guevara felt confident and ready to take her talents to the next level and contacted coach Dennis Gomes from the California Grapettes travel ball organization and within minutes he had several offers for Guevara.
Ultimately Guevara chose to attend Indiana Wesleyan University, which competes in the National Association of the Intercollegiate Athletics, or also known as the NAIA.
“After a year I was ready to transfer and I felt IWU was the perfect fit for me,” she said.
In her freshman year at IWU, Guevara went 9-9 in 109 and 2/3 innings pitched with a 5.23 ERA. Guevara felt more comfortable heading into her second year and after an impressive start she quickly settled in as one of the top pitchers in the NAIA after going 16-1 this past season with an ERA of 2.30.
She also led a Wildcats team that went on a 25-game winning streak en route to the best season finish in school history with a 47-12 posting.
“We had such an amazing group of girls and coaching staff behind me this past year that it made me feel like there was no better team out there,” said Guevara. “What led our winning streak was our chemistry and love for one another on and off the field.”
Not only has she blossomed into a great collegiate pitcher but with the tutoring and help of assistant coach Becca Bagley, Guevara has been learning how to manage her time with school and pitching.
“Over the last year and half I’ve been at IWU, I’ve received a tremendous amount of help from Coach Becca. She’s tutored me with my class work and taught me time management,” she said. “This was a huge part of my success because without her help, I wouldn't be successful on the mound.”
Guevara's grade point average is also her most successful to date at 3.0 as she pursues a degree in criminal justice.
“It gets hard at times being away from home,” she added. “My parents would never miss my games growing up but I push myself for them and my little sister because without their love and support, I wouldn't be who I am today. I’m lucky to have family in Illinois who are able to attend my games and be there for me.”
With a second place finish in conference under their belt, the Wildcats advanced to the opening round of Nationals in South Carolina before falling in back-to-back games to get booted out of the playoffs.
“Our goals for next season is to continue to play for Him, win conference and compete in Nationals again,” Guevara added. "This group of girls have been amazing this season by growing spiritually, mentally and physically. We led the conference records in pitching, hitting and set new school records.”