Staff ace strikes out 17, hurls first career perfect game
Every team that takes the field during high school regional play wants to start their post season as flawlessly as possible. Rarely is the standard achieved, but on Monday when the Lady Bobcats took the field against Bishop Ward, perfection is exactly what they got.
Junior Kristal Holland took the mound as focused as she has been all season long and threw the first perfect game of her career.
Do the math. In a seven-inning game there are 21 possible outs, and Holland struck out 17, including the first nine Ward batters of the game.
Not a single ball hit the ground, and only four Lady Cyclone batters were able to put the ball in play, all of them coming from fly outs.
"It was awesome; I've worked really hard in the off-season and it has really paid off," Holland said. "I was a little nervous, but I just treated it like another game that we needed to win."
After Holland struck out the side in the top of the first inning, freshman Shannon Carlin led off the Lady Bobcats half with a double, scoring the first run of the game and sparking a four-run first inning.
Freshman Chelsey Patton, Holland and sophomore Erin Shore all reached in the first inning and scored off two RBI singles from sophomore Stephanie Barger and junior Morgan Hale.
"Everyone was loose, and we were aggressive today," BLHS coach Susan Mayberry said. "We've got something to prove, and we're not going to just wait around. When your leadoff hitter gets a double first at bat of the game, it really sets the tone."
As Holland continued to put up zeros, her teammates continued to produce runs. The Lady Bobcats scored three runs in the third and one in the fourth and sixth innings.
Patton continued to hit the ball well and got two of the RBI's in the third inning off of a hard hit single. Freshman Maggie Schroeder got the other with a sac fly hit deep down the left field line.
Eight of the nine Lady Bobcats starters recorded hits in the game, and five had multi-hit games, showing the strength of their entire lineup.
"At this point it doesn't matter who we're playing, you've got to show up and play one game at a time," Mayberry said. "This is a brand new season for us, and we're going to ride the wave as long as possible."
With a perfect game under Holland's belt, the Lady Bobcats will go as far as the arm of Holland will take them.
"Kristal set the tone for the game, and when she's on, we're all going to follow right behind her," Mayberry said. "Perfect game or no perfect game, she was ready and can take us as far as we're willing to go."
It seems like all the pieces are fitting together for this team to make a run at the state title, but they aren't looking past anyone.
"You've only got certain teams, certain years to get there, and this is one of those years," Mayberry said. "We need to continue to dictate what happens, and I really like our chances if everyone decides to show up."
No matter who their next opponent is, after a performance like Monday's, one thing is for sure: no one will be happy to see the Lady Bobcats as their next opponents. And that's exactly the way they like it.
The Lady 'Cats continued their push toward state on Wednesday against Piper, however, results were not available at press time. Check next week's Sentinel for complete coverage.