Katie Born wasn’t going to get inside her own head this time.
One out — that’s how close Born, Shawnee Mission Northwest’s pitcher, came to throwing a perfect game last season. But against SM West, she walked the final batter. For a year, she’s remembered that sliver of imperfection on the stat sheet.
So Monday night, when Born started to get in the zone and realized she was throwing well, she blocked out all the noise. She compartmentalized. One pitch, then the next, and the next, until she had thrown not one perfect game, but two.
By the end of the night, Born completed a perfect doubleheader against SM North (the second one a shortened, three-inning contest). She totaled 11 strikeouts on the night, relying on her go-to inside fastball.
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Since her brush with perfection last year, Born has focused more on taking each pitch one at a time, shoving aside worries of how the game will end.
“When I realize I’m doing well, I kind of get in my head, and I don’t focus as much,” Born said. “So last night I just tried to focus on my next pitch instead of focusing so much on the end result. I’m in the game, in the moment, and I’m not as worried.”
She struck out eight batters in the first game, then barely had enough time to scarf down a sandwich and a few potato chips before she had to be back on the mound for game two.
Born kept in her rhythm, and added still more zeroes to her stat sheet. SM Northwest won both games, 8-0 and then 21-0.
“I don’t think the ball even made it to the outfield all night,” SM Northwest coach Anthony Kinney said. “Just groundball after groundball if they (SM North) got any contact. They just couldn’t figure it out. She had it locked in, and she wasn’t going to skip a beat.”
Once she got through 30 total batters and 104 pitches, Born could finally celebrate. Monday night’s doubleheader was the final regular season contests for Born, a senior. Her first — and second — perfect games were a long time coming. But they combined for a flawless ending to her softball career.
“I went and talked to my dad right after; he’s always been my pitching coach so it was really cool that I was able to do that,” she said. “Then my coach gave me the game ball, and I was really excited. These are kind of my final softball days, so now I have a piece of those games to take with me.”