The crew at an Applebee's restaurant in St. Louis didn't know what was happening Thursday night, but the Perryman family sure did.
Watching the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch draft on TV, the Streamwood residents became the life of the party when Hannah Perryman, a 2012 Elgin High graduate and now a senior at Division II Misouri-St. Louis, was drafted by the Akron Racers.
"I was sitting in Applebee's with my family and when I saw my face on TV my jaw just dropped," said Perryman, who was drafted in the sixth round as the 37th overall selection, becoming the first NCAA Division II player to be drafted by an NPF team.
"There was excitement and then I started crying -- the realization you had made it. The people at Applebee's were looking at us like we were crazy."
Nope, nothing crazy going on here. With the career Perryman has had at UMSL it was almost a no-brainer she'd get a shot at pitching in the six-team pro league.
The 5-foot-5 left-hander, who was the honorary captain of the Daily Herald's 2012 All-Area team, has become one of the best, if not the best, pitcher in Division II history. Don't believe it? Check out these numbers going into Saturday's Senior Day (the reason her family is in St. Louis for the weekend) against Saint Joseph's:
•Her career record in college is 119-19 (36-2 this year for her 41-4 team that is ranked No. 8 in the nation.
•She has 1,603 career strikeouts, a DII record.
•She has nine perfect games (another record), 15 career no-hitters (3rd) and 57 shutouts (10th). She has five no-hitters and two perfect games this season.
•Her career ERA is 1.23 (0.94 this season).
•This season, she has 20 shutouts, first in Division II and 445 strikeouts, also first, in 261⅔ innings. She's only issued 38 walks (200 for her career in 896⅓ innings.
And that's just the highlights.
"I am so exited for Hannah," said UMSL coach Brian Levin, who is also Akron's manager, on UMSL's website. "She has been such a tremendous performer for us at UMSL. "This is every young girl's dream, to go on and play the sport they love at the professional level."
But Perryman always figured it was just that -- a dream.
"Coach called me in the office and told me he got a call from the NPF that my name was on the list but that was no guarantee," she said. "I had a feeling but it wasn't for sure. This is something you dream of -- to get paid to do something I truly love and to be on the field with all those people ... it's incredible. It's such a humbling experience, I don't even have the words for it. I never thought this would happen."
Perryman, who holds the Elgin career strikeout record (840), started playing softball in a Streamwood in-house league when she was 10 -- as a catcher because when she tried to pitch most of her offerings went over the backstop. But if there ever has been a story of hard work paying off, this is one right at the top of the list.
"The coaches I've had is what's gotten me here," said Perryman, whose sophomore sister Jennah also plays at UMSL. "My dad (Mark) pushed me so hard every day, catching me for hours. He's the staple in my career."
As a high school and travel ball pitcher, Perryman relied mostly on her velocity and her exploding riseball. But as her college career evolved, she had to develop a couple of things to continue her success -- better control and another pitch or two.
"I've developed a screwball with my rise (as one pitch) that goes away from right-handed hitters," she said. "My changeup has gotten a lot better -- I didn't really have one in high school, but my screw has gotten me over the edge. People were getting into the riseball.
"My control has also gotten a lot better. Coach has us doing a lot of mental training. Being able to focus has been huge. In high school I'd freak out if something got in my way."
Before Perryman can think about signing her first pro contract (Akron opens the NPF season May 31 at Pennsylvania), there's unfinished business at UMSL. The Tritons have four more doubleheaders, including Sunday against top-ranked Indianapolis, before the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament starts April 29 in Peoria. The Tritons are the defending GLVC tournament champs, but they were stopped short of a DII World Series bid last year when they lost to Indy in the Super Regional.
"I'm excited (about the NPF) but I'm at UMSL now and I want to win everything we can here," said Perryman, a criminology major who hopes to graduate in December if she can get her summer classes in.
"I'm not done here. One of our bigger goals is (a national championship) and I think we have a legitimate shot at it."
And when she takes off the UMSL jersey for the last time, it will be on to Akron and the pro fastpitch world.
"When I was at Elgin we had a pretty good team," said Perryman, who played for Chad Dahlman at EHS and also learned from area pitching guru Jill Waldron. "Going from that to UMSL was a huge difference and now climbing up the ladder and going to the pros and that extra caliber of play -- it's going to be interesting and I'm excited to take it on."