Softball pitcher completes all-strikeout perfect game

5:48 AM, Apr 24, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) - There are perfect games and then there are perfect games.

Stonington (Conn.) High pitcher Andrea Chiaradio completed the rarest of feats Saturday afternoon, striking out all 21 batters she faced during the team's 3-0 win over Norwich (Conn.) Free Academy.

The junior is believed to be only the second softball pitcher in Connecticut high school history to have pitched a perfect game while striking out all 21 batters.

"This was my first no-hitter in high school," Chiaradio told TheWesterly (Conn.) 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."

Stonington coach Ann-Marie Houle told the paper that she and the other players were aware something special was happening from about the third inning on.

"I was thinking no-hitter and then perfect game (as the game progressed), but not with 21 strikeouts," Houle said. "That's unheard of. It's historic. I was tearing up a little at the end when she got a standing ovation."

Chiaradio, the team's No. 1 pitcher, recalled later that she went to a few 3-2 counts, the last one in the sixth inning.

In what would likely be considered a huge faux pas in Major League Baseball, Norwich Free Academy even went to the bunt to try to reach base, a common occurrence in fast-pitch softball

"They tried bunting a few times," Chiaradio said, "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."

Former Masuk High pitcher Rachele Fico, who threw a national-record 26 perfect games during her four-year career, is the only other Connecticut pitcher on record to stand with Chiaradio in state history.

Fico struck out all 21 batters during her senior year in 2009 in what was at the time her 21st perfect game. Fico, who was named first-team All-State all four years, is now a junior at LSU with a 15-6 record and 0.99 earned-run average this season.

Chiaradio, who had never even pitched at the varsity level before the 2012 season, boasts a 3-1 record and 1.26 ERA after the perfect game. She was Stonington's center fielder a year ago.

"She seemed like she just had confidence," Houle told The (New London, Conn.) Day. "I don't know what the heck was going on in her mind. 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."

Ellen J. Horrow, USA TODAY

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