It didn’t take Kelci Thatcher a half a second to answer the question.
“No,” the Butte Central softball coach said. “Never.”
Thatcher, like everybody else in attendance, had never before seen a pitcher strike out the first nine batters in a baseball game.
That is what sophomore pitcher Teresa Piazzola did Thursday as the Maroons knocked off Dillon 12-2 in five innings in the their Southwestern A opener at Stodden Park.
Piazzola was perfect through four innings. Her only blemishes were a bloop and a blast in the fifth inning.
Bailey Berriochoa led off the fifth with a Texas Leaguer just over the head of shortstop Shawnee Hjelt.
Kimee Hritsco-Murray followed by smoking a 1-2 pitch over the right field fence for a no-doubt home run that, momentarily, extended the game.
Piazzola, though, buckled down and struck out the side, and the Maroons finished the game via the 10-run rule with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
“She did phenomenal,” Thatcher said of Piazzola, who used 64 pitches. “As you noticed, she threw harder at the end of the game than she started that game. After that home run got hit, it made her mad and she was back to business.”
Senior center fielder Shelby Paffhausen opened the bottom of the fifth with her second home run of the season — a no-doubt shot to left-center field. Paffhausen just missed a home run two times earlier in the game. She flied out to deep center on her first two at bats.
McKenzie Gallagher followed with a double. She took third on a wild pitch and scored when Hjelt hit a pop up in the infield that was dropped.
The Maroons, who took advantage of seven Dillon errors, smacked nine hits. Freshman first baseman Mollie Peoples hit two singles and drove in two runs, Piazzola doubled, singled and drove in a run, and Hjelt doubled in two runs.
“We were super aggressive at the plate again,” Thatcher said. “We executed. I called three hit and runs and we were successful on two of the three.”
Freshman Corbyn Holm also doubled for the Maroons. Senior Mikayla Boggs added a single, while sophomore catcher Kate Ossello reached base three times — twice on an error and once when she was hit by a pitch.
Ossello gave the Maroons the lead in the first when Peoples singled. Peoples scored on Holm’s double. Hjelt’s two-run double scored Boggs and Gallagher to start of the second, and the Maroons cruised to their second straight win.
Piazzola got every batter in the Dillon lineup to strike out swinging the first time through the order.
When Dillon finally put the bat on the ball, the Maroons were there to make the play defensively.
Peoples made a spectacular catch in foul territory, Green made a solid play at third and Paffhausen made a nice catch in center.
The defensive play of the game, though, belonged to Dillon center fielder Savannah Hansen, who somehow reached down on the run to steal extra bases from Holm in the fourth.
BC evened its record at 2-2 overall. The Maroons hit the road for two conference games in the Bitterroot Valley on Saturday. BC will play at Corvallis before heading to Hamilton.
The team will board the bus on a high note.
“Overall, I’m very, very pleased with our performance both offensively and defensively,” Thatcher said. “It leaves me very, very confident that we’re going to be alright going into this weekend going against two strong teams.”
Dillon 000 02 — 2 2 7
Central 231 42 — 12 9 0
Loran Holtan, Brandi Lovaas (5) and Lovaas, Kimee Hritsco-Murray; Teresa Piazzola and Kate Ossello. W — Piazzola (2-1). L — Holtan.
DILLON — Lovaas 0-2, Audrey Schurg 0-2, Holtan 0-2, Bailey Berriochoa 1-2, Hritsco-Murray 1-2, Rachel Bowe 0-2, Makenzie Stanchfield 0-2, Halie Montgomery 0-2, Savannah Hansen 0-1, Shaylee Ericksen 0-0.
BUTTE CENTRAL (2-2, 1-0) — Shawnee Hjelt 1-4, Ossello 0-2, Mollie Peoples 2-3, Corbyn Holm 1-3, Rylee Green 0-3, Piazzola 2-3, Emily St. John 0-0, Mikayla Boggs 1-3, Shelby Paffhausen 1-3, McKenzie Gallagher 1-3, Courtney Thomas 0-0.
HR — Hritsco-Murray; Paffhausen.
2B — Hjelt, Holm, Piazzola, Gallagher.
RBIs — Hritsco-Murray 2; Hjelt 2, Peoples 2, Holm, Piazzola, Paffhausen.
Click here to buy photos by Jason Silvernale.