The Portage Collegiate Saints fastpitch team was very successful at their tournament in Winkler as they came home champions. While that was a big feat, the most prestigious accomplishment was achieved by an individual.
Grade 11 pitcher Ashley Tooth had the game of a lifetime during the tournament, pitching five perfect innings. The first batter Tooth faced hit a ground ball but was thrown out at first base. From that point on, Tooth struck out 14 consecutive batters, with many at-bats only taking three pitches.
"My catcher Katie called a great game," Tooth says humbly. "My rise ball was working effectively. Katie was able to see that it was a pitch they were having trouble with."
A perfect game in baseball or softball is when a pitcher allows no hits or walks for an entire contest. For reference, in Major League Baseball, there have only ever been 23 perfect games recorded since 1880.
Saints' head coach Shuana Cochrane-Thomson says they didn't fully realize what had happened right away.
"The girls that were scorekeeping said, 'Other than that first hit, nobody was on base. Afterwards, I realized that wasn't a hit. That's a dribbler, that doesn't count as a hit. It's a perfect game," the head coach continues. "We celebrated right away, even when we thought it was a near-perfect game. It was a good team we played. (Tooth) was just pitching very well. She went right at them and wasn't wasting any pitches."
Cochrane-Thomson says that was the best performance she has ever seen in her time coaching softball. She notes the team was also missing quite a few players, and Grade 12 Katie Preston played catcher for the first time all season and clearly found some chemistry with Tooth quickly.
From her Grade 10 season to now, Cochrane-Thomson has witnessed immense improvement from Tooth.
"I can see the changes in development in Ashley over just one year. She works really hard at this," Cochrane-Thomson explains. "She works through the winter and works with pitching coaches. You can just see the development that has happened in the last year. She was throwing very well for us last year but there's so much more power now."
PCI was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Garden Valley Zodiacs yesterday.