“Strike one, strike two, strike three, you’re out” was a common phrase spoken by the home plate umpire during the Golden Eagle softball team’s March 22 match up with University of Tennessee at Martin.
Sophomore Golden Eagle pitcher Danielle Liberatore dominated, striking out 16 Skyhawk batters and breaking a Tennessee Tech record in the process. The previous record holder was Liberatore’s head coach Bonnie Bynum. Bynum recognizes some similarities between herself and the record holder.
“I think she is a smart pitcher. I think we had that in common,” said Bynum. “I think we both thought through pitches, but as far as our pitching styles, she is totally different; she throws the ball a lot harder.”
Liberatore did face some adversity during her historic pitching. In the top of the second, UT-Martin freshman Alicia Hansen connected on a pitch that flew over the centerfield fence for a homerun.
“Oh, it definitely bothered me,” said Liberatore. “But basically when that happens I just got to try to shake it off as quick as I can.”
Liberatore responded during the next UT-Martin half-inning by striking out three consecutive Skyhawks.
The Golden Eagles’ starting catcher Alyssa Richards earned two RBIs after hitting a homer to centerfield.
Liberatore continued her show in the pitcher’s circle, striking out the side in the top of the fifth inning.
The 2-1 score for three innings kept fans on edge, but Liberatore was able to keep calm.
“Usually I would be really nervous, but I was actually feeling pretty confident on that one just because we had already went through the line up,” said Liberatore about the last three innings.
Liberatore did not realize the success she was having until one of her teammates brought it to her attention. Before she entered the game for the seventh inning, one of her teammates informed her that she already had 14 strikeouts on her stat sheet.
Liberatore completed her career day performance by earning her record-breaking strike out against Hansen, the same hitter that had gotten a homerun off her pitch in the second inning. She than endured a fourteen pitch at-bat with Lauren Smith that resulted in a walk and the placement of the possible go ahead run for the Skyhawks on first base. Liberatore ended the Skyhawks comeback attempt by getting senior Kelsey Dixon to hit a pop fly out.