Darren Doyle, story and photos
A hole-in-one at golf, bowling a 300, and hitting a half-court basketball shot at the buzzer are all amazing sports feats that don't happen very often, but when they do, you make a big deal about it. In baseball and softball, one of those feats is pitching a perfect game. That means that as a pitcher, you allow no one to reach base, period. You don't allow any hits, you have no walks, but there also has to be no errors, not just for the pitcher, but the entire team.
That's why the perfect game in baseball or softball is arguably the most elusive feat in all of sports, yet that's exactly what ECHS Senior pitcher Rachael Duncan accomplished last night as her Lady Cats defeated Caverna 10-0 in her perfect game.
Fifteen batters faced, and fifteen batters out, all in a row as Duncan found her rhythm early and didn't let up.
Coach Jeremy Garmon said he wasn't aware that a perfect game was within reach until the 5th inning. An old superstition in baseball and softball is to never talk about a no-hitter or perfect game during the actual game or the contest will be "jinxed."
"With the score being 10-0 in the 5th it hit me," Coach Garmon said. " I turned to Coach Haley (Garmon) and said "Does she have a.....?" and stopped. She walked over to me and I said we aren't mentioning anything but let me see the book, then she said "Yes, she does. "I'm very superstitious," Garmon said. "Coach Haley and I are huge baseball fans and just watched a no-hitter a couple weeks ago on TV. It was then I felt a little pressure to call the right pitches because I knew Rachael was "on" and would execute the calls."
"I didn't even realize I had a perfect game until coach said something," said Duncan. "I was shocked because it's been a while since anyone has had a perfect game (in Edmonson County)."
2007 to be exact, when former pitcher Lauren Caudill pitched not only one, but three in her career (also amazing) as a Lady Cat. Caudill racked up an impressive softball resume during her time at ECHS from 2002-2007, and many wondered if a perfect game would ever happen again in EC. The question was answered last night, and it was a big, fat "YES."
Duncan actually combined with ECHS pitcher Alyssa Brooks for previous perfect game against Caverna earlier in the season, and although extremely impressive, combined games are not the same.
"I realized there was a shot of a no hitter and perfect game when it was the 3rd inning," she said. "My team was there to back me up, so I thank them more than anything. I didn't do it by myself, my team is always there to back me up and make awesome plays."
Coach Garmon was also quick to credit the Lady Cat defense, something imperative in a perfect game.
"The key to a perfect game is not only the pitching and catching, but the defense, he said. "They can get relaxed with so many outs in a row and then one error ruins the whole thing. Everyone did their job. It was a great feat, no matter the level or the opponent, it takes a team effort."
The Lady Cats had no trouble creating offense against the struggling Lady Colonels. Leading offensively was Kayla Whittington, going 1-2 with a walk, a stolen base, and 4 RBI's. Several other Lady Cats also helped the offense like Duncan, who helped herself, going 1-2 with an RBI double.
First year coach Garmon said he's learning on the fly, but enjoying the success of his team, which has now improved to 19-8 on the season. He said the credit for the success is not his own.
"From top to bottom, all the credit is to them," he said. "The players work hard. They want to win. There have been ups and downs, but in the end they are a team. I inherited a great group that has made my job a whole lot easier than it could have been. We still have a lot of goals left to accomplish. I told the girls a while back people talk about good teams, but they remember great teams. We want to be remembered."
Being remembered is lots easier when you have pitchers that compete at the level of Duncan. This year alone, she's now pitched a perfect game, a combined perfect game, along with two different one-hit games. She has a 1.55 ERA on the season with 90 strikeouts and only 17 walks.
Box Score: Simon, 1-3, RBI, Allen 0-2, BB, Massey 1-2, BB, Stice 0-0, run, Basil 2-2, BB, Dockery 0-2, BB 2runs, Whitfill, 0-0 2RBI, 2HBP, Logsdon 1-3, RBI.
Duncan went 5 innings on 53 pitches. Not to be overlooked, the Lady Cats shutout Caverna again in the next game, 11-0 which was a doubleheader. Alyssa Brooks notched the win in the 5 inning complete game shutout. She gave up no runs on 5 hits, 2 strikeouts, and 1 walk.
The next game will be at Grayson County on Thursday, May 5th at 5:30. You can listen to the game live on WildcatsLive with Jamie and Wyn starting at 5:15pm.