It's funny, isn't it? How your deepest sorrow can lead to your
Cal softball pitcher Jocelyn Forest stood on the mound in the
College World Series, staring. But she didn't see the catcher.
She saw her older sister, Erika, throat slashed by a knife, her
stomach carved up, dead, allegedly at the hand of her husband.
How was Jocelyn supposed to get that out of her mind? How could
she forget when Erika's house in Orcutt, Calif., the crime scene,
was closed off for three days by detectives, who couldn't let
Jocelyn and her mother, Vicki, go in and get something to dress
Erika in for the funeral?
That was a weird feeling, shopping with her mom for an outfit for
Erika to wear in the casket. Something soft, they thought. Erika
liked anything soft. They bought a blue angora sweater, a pair of
khakis and slippers "to keep her feet warm," says Vicki.
Jocelyn, of course, wouldn't be caught dead or alive in an outfit
like that. "My two opposite daughters," says Vicki. "One, so
athletic. The other, so feminine. Yet they were so close."
Growing up five years apart in Santa Maria, Calif., Jocelyn used
to sit at her sister's feet and watch her get ready for school.
Truth is, one of the last things Jocelyn said to Erika was, "You
were always my idol."
Erika smiled and said, "And now the roles are reversed."
That's because her tomboy sister had become one of the best
pitchers in the country, hero to thousands of girls who don't
wear angora either. With a wicked riser, a nasty changeup and a
titanium will, the senior righthander was leading the Golden
Bears one last time in a run for the national title. That is,
until the afternoon of Sunday, April 14.
That's when they found Erika, 26, mutilated in her kitchen. Her
husband, Roger Jantz, was also there, stab wounds on his wrists,
arms and stomach. Apparently, he'd tried to kill himself and
failed. Thankfully, their 10-year-old son, Taylor, was at his
grandmother's. Jantz, a 32-year-old former delivery man, pleaded
not guilty at his arraignment last week.
"Erika said he was depressed," Jocelyn recalls. "Their marriage
was over. She'd been telling him to move out for six months. She
wasn't even wearing her wedding ring anymore. Erika said he'd
made remarks about suicide, but she didn't think he was serious."
In the heart of her senior season, Jocelyn raced home. "I can't
tell you how physically exhausting that week was," recalls her
mom. "It was all she could do to get out of bed and take a
But on the next Sunday there was a huge game against defending
national champ and top-ranked Arizona. Nobody on the Cal team was
sure their star pitcher would be back for the rest of the season,
much less one of those games. "At first she was like, 'No way I
can throw this weekend,'" remembers Jocelyn's boyfriend, Rob
Truhitte. "But it became, 'I've got to throw Sunday. I've got to
be on that field with my girls.'"
That Sunday, one week after her sister's murder and two days
after the funeral, Jocelyn Forest threw the game of her life. The
riser was soaring. "Everything I threw was just jumping," she
recalls. Maybe she gripped it so hard out of fear of losing her
"What were you thinking about out there?" her mom asked that
"Erika," said Jocelyn. "I just keep thinking about Erika."
Jocelyn struck out 15 and one-hit Arizona, 2-1. And she didn't
stop for a month straight. In the NCAA regionals she pitched
every inning, had a 0.87 ERA, and Cal went 4-0. In the World
Series the same thing happened: every inning, 4-0, 0.50 ERA, most
outstanding player of the tournament. And again she one-hit
Arizona, this time for the national title. It was Cal's first
NCAA women's championship in any sport. "Winning was just so
awesome," says Jocelyn. "We were unstoppable."
Truhitte shakes his head. "The way everything went so perfectly,
it's hard to believe Erika wasn't up there pulling strings for
Now comes the hard part. With her college career over, Jocelyn is
left with only the long nights, staring at the ceiling until 3
a.m. "I keep thinking about what it must've been like for her,"
Prosecutors say the case against Jantz could take at least a year
to run its course. That's a lot of ceilings. "Jocelyn will get
through it," says Cal third baseman Candace Harper. "She's
tougher than all of us put together."
Hey, a riser isn't just a pitch, you know.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA