Seven hours is a long time for a game to be completed in any sport at any level, let alone a college softball contest in which one team is held hitless.
That’s what makes freshman pitcher Ashley Thayer’s no-hitter against Regis last Thursday in Ft. Myers, Fla., that much more impressive.
In a 4-0 victory for the SUNY Potsdam softball team, Thayer, a lefty making just her third collegiate start, allowed no hits and just three walks in a game which began a half hour early, was delayed five hours by rain and concluded well into the afternoon and early evening. The Winthrop, N.Y., native kept her mental composure despite the delay, striking out nine with good velocity and movement on her pitches.
“The game was split, so I really had no idea I was throwing a no-hitter,” said Thayer, who estimated she threw “one or two” no-hitters while at St. Lawrence High School.
Sophomore Amanda Perry (South Glens Falls, N.Y.), who was the catcher during the no-hitter, believes Thayer is a strong talent on the mound.
“You don’t know with Ash, because she’s a freshman and we haven’t really had many chances to catch her yet, but she’s incredible,” Perry said. “She has natural movement, and when she throws, she just throws. She was just relaxed and throwing her game, hitting the outside corner and inside corner. Everything I called she would hit. She just pitched a very good game.”
Thayer, who also finished 2-for-4 with a run scored at the plate during the game, credited Perry, an All-SUNYAC honoree last season, with calling a great game behind the plate.
“Amanda knows how to call a game,” Thayer said. “She knows where to pitch it for each batter and what pitches to call. I thought I hit my spots well, but I give most of the credit to her.”
Perhaps more impressive than her individual accomplishment is Thayer’s composite performance in four starts at the Gene Cusic Classic last week. She posted a 3-1 record, compiling a 3.16 earned run average and 41 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings pitched and helping the Bears post a 5-5 record at the tournament, a two-win improvement from the team’s performance there in 2010.
Potsdam coach Shannon Dillabough said Thayer has come a long way since playing in high school.
“Ashley has worked hard on her command, and she has natural talent and late movement on her pitches,” Dillabough said. “She throw strikes and isn’t intimidated by or afraid of anyone. She is a competitor who took the competition by the horns, leaving runners stranded several times.”
Following her stellar week, Thayer was named the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Softball Pitcher of the Week and, more recently, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Upstate Softball Pitcher of the Week.
Thayer hopes the performance serves the team well in April, when the majority of the 2011 season takes place.
“With pitching, for me, it’s a confidence thing,” Thayer said. “If you have a good game, you’re going to have better games. So starting off well last week will help me later on in the season.”
The Bears, who resume play on April 1 against Plattsburgh, are optimistic about what’s to come this season.
“I think we have a lot of talent on our team,” Perry said. “I see us doing very well if we play the game we can play and not play down to other teams. I think we’re going to have a very good season this year.”