TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State senior right-hander Hillary Bach didn’t know what to expect when she took the field Saturday night against Wichita State. Later, when she made Sun Devil history, she was as surprised as anyone else.
Bach threw the game of her life, pitching only the fourth perfect game in Arizona State softball history, a 9-0, five-inning win against the Shockers. Reflecting on the feat Sunday, she still couldn’t really believe it.
“I have never even thrown a no-hitter before,” said Bach.
Wichita State must feel snake bit after facing the No. 5 Sun Devils. On Thursday night, ASU’s Mackensie Popescue tossed a no-hitter against the Shockers.
But it was Bach’s performance Saturday that will go down in Sun Devil history. The senior leader is 8-0 in 2012 with an ERA of 0.44. She’s given up three earned runs all season.
Bach is one of ASU’s all-time greats. So, it is fitting that she threw a perfect game in what is to be her last season as a Sun Devil. Bach won 31 games in 2009, placing her fifth all-time on the Sun Devils single season win list. While she confesses she is not a “strikeout pitcher,” she is 11th all-time in strikeouts. By the time she ends her career, she should rank second in career wins for the Sun Devils, trailing only the great Katie Burkhart. Currently, Bach is fifth with 74 wins.
Recounting how she felt when her teammates rushed the field Saturday night, the senior star said, “It was a very cool moment for our team.”
To say Bach is humble would be an understatement. She credits her team’s defense for setting the tone Saturday night. She admits she is not a dominating strikeout pitcher, having to rely on ground balls to get people out. Against Wichita State, she struck out five but, obviously, gave her teammates plenty of chances to make plays. And make plays they did.
An inspirational point for Bach on Saturday night came in the third inning. The Sun Devils were routing the Shockers and, as a result, the inning was lasting a little longer than normal. So, to keep warm, Bach headed down to the bullpen to work with her pitching coach. He mentioned to her how cool the scoreboard looked at the time – lines of zero across the entire board. ”I was a little nervous he brought it to my attention,” said Bach. “But, it worked out alright.”
Most impressive about Bach’s performance might have been what she did before the game in preparation for facing the Shockers. “I watched film of my game against San Jose State, just to see what I could improve on,” said the senior right-hander. “Then, I watched film of the Wichita hitters. I wanted to be prepared when I took the mound against them.”
Guess the scouting report worked.
Now, from the sounds of things, Bach will have no problem staying focused to continue the Sun Devils’ quest for a repeat of their 2011 national championship. When asked where the feat of pitching a perfect game fit in regards to her career highlight, the superstar pitcher said, nonchalantly, “I guess I can cross it off my bucket list.”