Drake softball pitcher sets NCAA record with fifth perfect game of the season

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
Nicole Newman has posted some eye-popping numbers this year. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Nicole Newman has posted some eye-popping numbers this year. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

For most pitchers, throwing a perfect game is the pinnacle of their career. It’s something to tell their grandkids. It’s a shared accomplishment for the whole team to remember.

Now imagine having five of those in the last six weeks.

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That is reality for Drake softball pitcher Nicole Newman, who set an NCAA record Friday with her fifth perfect game of the season according to ESPN. All five perfect games have occurred since March 30.

In addition to blanking Bradley on Friday, Newman was also perfect on March 30 against Indiana State, April 6 against Valparaiso, April 13 against Loyola and May 3 against Evansville.

In the 31 innings pitched in those games, Newman recorded 74 strikeouts.

Newman broke a tie with four other pitchers for the single-season perfect-game record, the most recent being Oklahoma’s Paige Parker in 2015.

Granted, NCAA softball pitchers have a somewhat easier road to perfection thanks to seven-inning regulation games and the presence of a mercy rule, which can shrink games down to five innings if a team leads by at least eight runs. But Newman still stands alone in the record books.

As if five perfect games weren’t enough, Newman has also posted three no-hitters this year and contributed to two more combined ones. The senior entered this season with four no-hitters under her belt, giving her 12 career individual no-nos.

Newman has pitched in 42 of her team’s 55 games this season, recording a 0.88 ERA, good for second in the country, and an NCAA-leading 380 strikeouts in 199 innings. Opponents are hitting .109 against her this year. She’s also hitting .273/.424/.432 at the plate this year.

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