The two best possible outcomes for a pitcher on a given day are a perfect game and a no-hitter. It’s hard to accomplish either of these feats, let alone do it twice in one weekend.
That’s exactly what senior pitcher Courtney Vierstra did against the Akron Zips this weekend.
Vierstra’s first start came on Friday, in the first game of the series. She started off the game by hitting outfielder Molly McChesney with a pitch, but quickly settled in, striking out the next two hitters after McChesney was caught stealing second base.
Vierstra struck out the side in two straight innings while the RedHawks built an 11-0 lead. In the bottom of the fourth inning, she struck out the first two batters before infielder Madison Dudek was thrown out attempting to bunt her way on base.
With an 11-run lead going into the bottom of the fifth, Miami was three outs away from picking up the win via mercy rule. Even if Vierstra somehow gave up three runs in the inning, an 11-3 advantage would’ve been enough for the RedHawks to leave with an early win.
Of course, it didn’t matter. Vierstra struck out the first two batters before pinch hitter Hannah Gartrell grounded out to third base to end the game.
Vierstra’s box score: five innings pitched, zero earned runs, zero hits, one hbp and 12 strikeouts in 15 at-bats for the Zips. Akron put the ball in play just twice, both of which were harmless groundouts.
If it weren’t for Vierstra nailing the first batter she faced, it would’ve been a perfect game.
It wouldn’t be long before she had another chance to do so.
Vierstra pitched 4 ⅓ innings in the first leg of Saturday’s doubleheader, compiling eight strikeouts and giving up just three hits while allowing an unearned run. She was relieved by first-year Emma Summers, who gave up three runs (two unearned) before closing the door to preserve the 12-4 mercy rule victory.
Miami had to play all seven innings in the second game of the day but still won handily, 9-3.
Sunday was the last game of the series, and Vierstra’s third outing in three days. After the RedHawks scored two runs in the top of the first inning, Vierstra struck out two batters and forced a popup to the second baseman.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
After getting two strikeouts in the second inning, she struck out the side in the third, with all three batters going down swinging. Meanwhile, her team managed to build a 6-0 lead.
As the fourth and fifth innings went by and Vierstra was still locked in, suspense was mounting. Vierstra might have an opportunity to throw a perfect game after all, and she would get to pitch all seven innings in doing so.
In the bottom of the sixth, Vierstra put out the side again. Miami added two runs in the top of the seventh, but it didn’t matter. With the win almost secured, the only thing left to do for Vierstra was finish the job.
She delivered. McChesney, the first hitter Vierstra faced in the series, grounded out to the first baseman. So did Dudek.
There was only one batter left between Vierstra and her perfect game.
Vierstra decided to get the last batter out the easy way: a strikeout. With a 3-2 count, she got outfielder Macky Mitchiner to swing at a pitch and miss.
It was Vierstra’s second perfect game of the season, and the only one she had to pitch all seven innings to do it. After the weekend series against the Zips, she now has three starts this season in which no hits were given up.
The RedHawks are now 22-6 on the season, and still undefeated (12-0) in the Mid-American Conference. The team plays a weekend series against the Buffalo Bulls this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.