Softball: Huntley's Bower throws perfect game against Burlington Central
This was true perfection. No hit batters. No dropped third strikes. Just 15 up and 15 down.
Of course, statistical nit-pickers will complain that it was only 5 innings, but Briana Bower couldn't do much about that. Huntley's ace pitcher retired all 15 batters that Burlington Central sent to the plate, striking out 9 of them. She also homered and drove in 3 runs as the Red Raiders prevailed in Fox Valley Conference action, 10-0, Thursday in Huntley.
After the game, she of course wanted to talk about hitting first.
After RBI groundouts in her first 2 at-bats, Bower deposited one over the left-field fence inside the foul pole. Two pitches earlier she drove a ball into the left-field corner that barely landed foul.
"I just told myself to wait back a little and just make contact with the ball," she said. "That's what I did and it went out."
Oh, and the pitching wasn't bad, either.
"I was feeling good during warmups," Bower said. "It's warm out, too, so that helps a little bit. The muscles were all nice and warmed up. Everything was just working today."
The homer was the start of a 5-run fifth inning that ended the game early. Katie Mitchell's drive to deep right field brought in the 10th and final run.
Alex Kiriakopoulos also homered for Huntley. Mitchell had 2 hits, reached base 4 times, and scored twice. Alyssa Ekstrom also had 2 hits. Alyssa Taylor hit a booming, 2-run triple in the fifth.
Morgan made a couple of nice grabs in center field to preserve the perfect game.
With 10 players still in quarantine, including 6 starters, Bower's performance gave the Red Raiders a huge lift.
"Bri this last week has really stepped it up, not only on the mound, but offensively," said Huntley coach Mark Petryniec. "You take 6 bats out of our lineup, and it's gotta be next girl up. Today, a lot of the girls who came up actually produced and had an impact on the game today."
One of those was catcher Hayden Golembiewski, who Bower singled out for a "phenomenal" game.
The Red Raiders made it through the first round of conference play undefeated.
"Last time we played, we did not win conference, so that's definitely a goal of ours this year," Petryniec said. "It's nice to see that everyone in our program can come up and contribute."
Huntley played small ball to take the early lead. Mitchell led off by beating out a hit that bounced off home plate. She advanced on a stolen base and a passed ball and scored when Ekstrom beat out a hit back toward the circle.
Ekstrom stole second, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Bower's chopper to shortstop.