There are dominant performances, and then there are games like the one put up by Poland (Ohio) Seminary softball pitcher Erin Gabriel. On Monday night, Gabriel led her Poland Seminary squad to a 2-1 victory against Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage School in 16 innings. Here's the most impressive part: Gabriel pitched all 16 innings, and she struck out 34 batters in the process.
Yes, you read that correctly: A softball pitcher recorded 34 strikeouts in a single game. That's an average of more than two punch-outs per inning, even as the contest stretched beyond the length of a second entire game.
According to the Palm Beach Post, the victory was Poland Seminary's fourth of the season, helping reinforce the program's No. 12 national ranking from ESPN.
There should be little doubt that Gabriel is the largest reason for that. The senior was both the 2010 and 2011 Gatorade Ohio Softball Player of the Year and was a member of the 2010-11 U.S. Junior National Team, where she was the youngest member of the team. She also won an U-18 gold medal at the 2010 Pan American Games.
For Gabriel and her teammates, Monday's victory against a fellow nationally ranked American Heritage squad was a big step toward the program's ultimate goal of an undefeated season, an end result which will be tested again on Tuesday with a game against the nation's second-ranked team, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High. Given the sheer number of innings and pitches that Gabriel tossed on Monday, Poland Spring will probably have to scrap for the win without her on the mound.
"We always set the stakes as high as we can and set the bar as high as possible, and going undefeated is one of the things we want," Gabriel told the Youngstown Vindicator. "But we don't want to look too far ahead."
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