Cienega senior pitcher Sarah Andrews has bounced back from an injury to lead her team to the No. 1 ranking in Division I.
Andrews threw a perfect game last Thursday in a 10-0 victory at Douglas. The senior struck out six over six innings to improve to 8-1.
It was the first perfect game Cienega coach Eric Tatham could recall in his seven years at the helm.
"I was just going out there and pitching," Andrews said. "It was really a normal game. I was actually shocked I pitched a perfect game at all. I didn't know until the end of the game."
The Canisius College commit has tossed seven complete games and owns a 0.49 ERA. Through 57 2/3 innings, she has held hitters to a .180 batting average and has issued only five walks.
Andrews, who leads the Bobcats in home runs with four, is one of three seniors and the lone connection to Cienega's state championship team in 2010. Tatham ranks Andrews right behind former Cienega star Alexa Cash, who holds the school record for strikeouts with 827 in three seasons.
Andrews likes to keep the ball low and rely on her defense to make plays. She can throw seven pitches. Here's a look at her four favorite:
The lowdown: Andrews throws the pitch in the upper 40s to lower 50s. She throws this pitch with confidence, everywhere in the zone.
Why it works: She releases the pitch from her hip and the softball comes across the plate to the outside and drops. It moves from inside to outside and high to low.
Quotable: "As it is coming in, I sit there and I smile the whole entire time because it gets them every single time. They never expect it." - junior catcher Makena Brawley
The lowdown: Makena, who calls the pitches, likes the change-up typically when they are ahead in the count, closing in on a strikeout.
Why it works: It approaches the plate around the mid-thigh then breaks downward instead of toward a corner of the plate.
Quotable: "I practiced my change-up when I was younger like nobody's business. When I throw it, hitters are like, 'Oh this is going to be a fatty,' then, they're whiffing and it just drops." - Andrews
3. Drop ball
The lowdown: At around 60 mph, it's about the same speed as her fastball so that's what she uses it as.
Why it works: Andrews' release point on her drop ball pitch causes a natural sinking fastball movement. It looks like a fastball then drops to the hitters' ankles.
Quotable: "With a lot of pitchers the drop ball tends to go in the dirt. With Sarah, I never have to block, I never have to dig a ball. It always drops into the glove." -Brawley.
The lowdown: Andrews likes to throw this pitch, which clocks in at 61 mph, to get a call or check swing. It gets inside on a batter and opens up the outer part of the plate.
Why it works: Andrews sets the screwball up with her other pitches. The pitch starts at the center of the plate and breaks sharply inside toward right-handed batters and away from left-handed hitters.
Quotable: "I have no fear of getting in on a batters' hands." - Andrews