Seniors Hannah Perryman of Elgin and Katie Coleman of Batavia matched each other pitch for pitch Wednesday afternoon.
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Maroons' sophomore Anna Eckholm drilled a 1-1 Coleman pitch over the left field fence to lead off the sixth inning, and Elgin rode Perryman's 15 strikeout, 1-hitter and an errorless defense to 1-0 Upstate Eight Conference softball win in River Division play in Elgin.
Perryman has now struck out an even 100 batters in her last six starts.
"It's the best I've ever seen anyone throw in a string like this," said Elgin coach Chad Dahlman. "She's getting ahead and mixing it up. She's got a lot of movement and she's able to use all her pitches because she's getting ahead."
Which, to Perryman, is the key to everything she does inside the circle. Always a pitcher with big strikeout potential, the Missouri-St. Louis recruit has had her bouts with wildness in the past.
"I'm just getting ahead," said Perryman, now 8-6 on the season. "Before I'd get behind and have to throw more pitches. Now I'm using my rise, my fastball, my curve, and even my changeup is working. I just have more confidence. I just go out there and know I can do this."
During Perryman's strikeout streak, the Maroons have struggled defensively and lost games. As Batavia coach Ashley Szymski put it, "the word on the street is" that Elgin can't handle the small-ball game on defense. The Maroons (11-8, 3-4) did on Wednesday, though. The three times Batavia (9-10, 3-5) was able to put bunts down, Elgin handled them flawlessly.
"The thing that's been killing us lately is our defense," said Dahlman. "We made the plays today and kept them off the bases. We didn't make Hannah work to get those extra outs."
Perryman credited her coach as well as her defense.
"Coach Dahlman has done an incredible job of moving our infield around and putting people in the right places," she said. "Before we were freaking out on every bunt. Now we're handling it."
The Bulldogs' only hit in the game was sophomore Eric Costigan's well-placed bunt with two outs in the fourth inning. Perryman walked 2, both in the first inning but Batavia never got a runner past second base.
"Perryman's got a good riseball and she's tough to hit," said Szymski. "After seeing slower pitching the day before, it's tough to adjust."
Adjusting is just what Eckholm did to win the game for the Maroons. After walking then striking out against Coleman, who whiffed 11 Maroons and allowed only 2 hits, Eckholm dug in in the sixth just hoping to get on base. Her powerful swing on the 1-1 pitch launched the ball well over the fence in left.
"She was pitching me inside a little so I just adjusted and got a pitch I liked," Eckholm said. "I was just trying to get on base to help my team out."
Coleman's effort was stellar for the Bulldogs as well. She walked 2 and only allowed two Elgin runners as far as third base prior to Eckholm's home run.
"Katie Coleman pitched really well," said Szymski. "One pitch makes a difference. (Eckholm) read it right and I can't take that away from her. It was a tough one but you have to give (Eckholm) credit. She got the whole ball and she did what she needed to do for her team to win the game."