Elkins ignites Bombers with perfect game
Lauren Elkins wasn't exactly sure what to do after recording the final out of the game for the Lansing Bombers, her 14-and-under softball team in the Lansing City League.
The Bombers had just defeated Bonner Springs, 14-0, and Elkins, a sophomore-to-be at Lansing High School, had just accomplished one of the rarest feats in sports - she threw a perfect game. The reality was slow to sink in.
"It was my first one," she said of the perfect game. "I was kind of excited."
Elkins wasn't the only one who had a delayed reaction. Her teammates were a little slow as well.
"Some of them didn't really realize it at first, but they were excited too," Elkins said.
As soon as her teammates caught on, however, they mobbed Elkins to celebrate.
Their delayed jubilation is understandable. Some might not have realized the game was over. After all, it lasted just four innings. The Bombers won by run-rule, 14-0. It also happened very quickly because of Elkins' efficiency on the mound and her teammates' proficiency at the plate on offense.
"Lauren just did a fantastic job," Bombers coach Tom Barnhouse said, "and the team had no errors. The girls played a tremendous defensive game, and offensively it was one of the best hitting performances they've had."
Elkins struck out nine of the 12 batters she faced. The other three grounded out.
The irony about Elkins' perfect game was the fact that she did it by throwing fastballs only. She said she hadn't played softball since last summer - she played varsity soccer as a freshman this spring at LHS - so during the time away from the diamond she said she lost her other pitches.
"I had a change-up and a screw ball and a curve ball," she said, "but I didn't work all year since I played soccer, and I lost all three of them."
To make up for her lack of pitching diversity this season, Elkins said she has been able to rely on her teammates to come through for her with their bats and gloves. The Bombers did just that against Bonner Springs as everybody found a way to contribute. Mallory Barnhouse had two hits and two runs. DeeDee Clifford, Heather Kermashek and Megan Osborn each scored twice. Kristyn Russell had a good defensive game behind the plate. Even Elkins ripped a base hit and scored two runs in the victory.
"They all did just a fantastic job," coach Barnhouse said. "It was really well done."
Despite her success on the mound this season and in the past six years, she said this likely would be her last summer playing softball. She is one of only two high school students on her team because at age 14 she still was young enough to play with the Bombers. Next year she'll be too old, though. Plus, she said, she probably would focus more on soccer. Until then, she said she plans to savor every last moment with the Bombers and she said she was glad she decided to play one final season of softball.
"We're all just having fun right now," she said. "And it really doesn't matter if we win or lose. We always laugh and we always have fun."