When Stonington (Conn.) High softball pitcher Andrea Chiaradio woke up on Saturday morning, she had no idea she was about to complete the most perfect game anyone could ever perform.
As reported by the Westerly Sun and New London Day, just hours later, Chiaradio would close out a perfect game comprised of 21 strikeouts, cementing her legacy as a Connecticut legend after all but single-handedly ensuring that Stonington would knock off Norwich (Conn.) Free Academy in Stonington's 3-0 win.
Chiaradio's "perfect" perfect game came just hours before White Sox pitcher Philip Humber tossed the 21st perfect game in MLB history, making Saturday one heck of a day for shutdown pitching.
"She seemed like she just had confidence," Stonington coach Ann-Marie Houle told the New London Day. "I don't know what the heck was going on in her mind. I'm superstitious, so people were sitting on the same buckets for seven innings. But she played center field all last year and she never complained. When the coach gives you that moment and you take it ... good for her.
"All the parents stood up and gave her a standing ovation at the end."
While an all-strikeout perfect game might seem incredible enough, the circumstances surrounding Chiaradio's accomplishment make the feat all the more incredible. Norwich Free Academy entered Saturday's game on the back of a 27-hit, 26-7 victory on Thursday. That stood in stark contrast to Chiaradio's previous start, when the teen had been topped by a tough East Lyme squad. After the victory, Chiaradio -- who boasts a 3-1 record and 1.26 ERA after the perfect game, according to the Sun -- admitted she had been nervous about her chances against NFA based on those stats, despite previous impressive outings like her three-hit victory against Westerly (R.I.) High in Stonington's season opener.
In the end, the only thing the pitcher had to be concerned about was holding on to an ever elusive 21-strikeout perfect game, with only NFA's final hitter -- Emily Devito -- instilling any significant fear in the Stonington pitcher after Devito gamely fouled off a number of pitches to keep the game alive.
Considering the fact that Chiaradio had never thrown a no-hitter before, the fact that she could calmly plow through a perfect game was a truly remarkable achievement, one the pitcher was still coming to grips with after the game.
"This was my first no-hitter in high school," Chiaradio told the Sun. "I probably was aware of it in about the fifth inning when a few of the girls on the bench said something about it when we were at bat. I knocked on wood. I tried not to think about it and not to psyche myself out. I just concentrated on getting the rest of the outs.
"I had a few 3-2 counts so that was close. And they tried bunting a few times, but they either fouled it off or just couldn't get it down. The last batter was left-handed and fouled a few pitches off. I got kind of nervous. Then I threw a fastball on the outside corner for the last strike and it was all over."
With that outside fastball, Devito went down, as had all previous 20 batters, sewing up a truly remarkable day for a player who had never even pitched at the varsity level before the 2012 season. Something tells Prep Rally that based on her most recent success, Chiaradio will get plenty of chances to pitch in the future.
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