The perfect game

The+perfect+game

Adam P. Faust/Guilfordian

The charter bus pulled up to Sweet Briar College. It was around noon on April 5. The players glanced outside in quiet anticipation of the upcoming game.

“It was a beautiful afternoon, absolutely gorgeous,” said head softball coach Dennis Shores. “A great day for some softball.”

Another day, another game.

The team walked out of the bus and headed for the softball field.

Sophomore pitcher Calli Pastor warmed up her right arm with catcher Erin Ogden, looking to impress in her first pitching start for Guilford.

“Calli was a team leader, so I hoped she could bring that to Guilford and help our program,” said Shores.

At the bottom of the first inning, Guilford had already scored four runs over Sweet Briar. Pastor walked up to the pitching mound. She prepared the ball in her hand and ripped it towards home plate.

Thud. The first pitch found Ogden’s mitt.

“Calli started playing at our local little league organization at the age of six,” said Tom Pastor, Calli’s father. “At 11, she started taking private pitching lessons and played travel ball, which lead to her love for the game.”

Calli and Ogden played catch for the first two outs, as neither batter threatened the Lady Quaker defense.

Sweet Briar’s third batter stepped up to the plate, and Calli prepared another high-speed pitch.

“I came in with the mentality that I just wanted to do my best,” said Calli. “Having a good defense behind me, I was ready to make some plays.”

Crack.

It’s every pitcher’s most hated sound. In the brief moment after the bat made contact, nobody knew where the ball would end up. Each ‘crack’ might as well mark a home run.

But, the ball popped up and harmlessly fell into Calli’s glove.

Three outs.

The team marched back to the dugout, eager to score more runs.

Calli seemed content with her performance, unconsciously thanking her back for staying calm.

“I was born with a defect — spina bifida,” said Calli. “I was unable to walk until the age of four.

“I’ve had extreme pain sometimes after I pitch a lot, but it doesn’t stop me from playing. I enjoy softball, so I just have to push through.”

Spina bifida is a developmental congenital disorder that causes some vertebrae to remain unfused and open, allowing a portion of the spinal cord to protrude through the opening in the bones.

It stays a peripheral issue though, as Calli focused solely on the goal at hand: winning.

“After the game, I’ve had pains, so I had to stretch it out and take my medicine,” said Calli. “The spina bifida didn’t really bother me during the game.”

Each of the next three innings ended with a satisfying thud.

At the bottom of the fifth, Guilford doubled their lead to 11 runs. According to the NCAA rules, games are called to an end if a team maintains a lead of eight or more.

Calli stepped up to the mound, hopefully for the last time. She was ahead on the batter with two strikes, each making the gratifying thud as the ball met Ogden’s glove.

Crack.

The team’s heart jumped, but returned to its steady state after right fielder Machala Vestal got under the ball.

Out one.

Shores said he knew she would do well against Sweet Briar.

“Sweet Briar couldn’t deal very well with fast pitches,” said Shores. “Calli can throw it at about 60 miles an hour, a figure equivalent to about 90 miles per hour in baseball.”

Crack.

The ball bounced to third baseman Madison Morrison. She hauled it to first as the ball beat the batter to the base.

Out two.

“I was lucky to be present at the game and happy to see she still has it as a pitcher, even though she had not pitched in a game in almost a year,” said Tom.

Crack.

The final batter drove it straight into shortstop Taylor Boyd.

Out three.

Guilford celebrated their win as they walk off the field.

“I didn’t even know about the perfect game until after the game,” said Calli. “My coach came up to me and said ‘oh and by the way, you threw a perfect game.’”

Another day, another game.

Perfection.