April was a banner month in Women’s Sports. On April 4th, Stanford took home the trophy from the NCAA Division I women’s tournament when they defeated Arizona, who had just come off a shocking, semi final upset of heavy favorite University of Connecticut. On April 15th, Texas center, Charli Collier was drafted #1 overall by the Chicago Wings in the WNBA draft. All across the nation, women’s collegiate and professional sports are in full swing as the country continues to combat the Covid-19 Pandemic. But on April 11th, in a quiet little Arkansas town, a single athlete immortalized herself in the halls of sports history.
It was a bright sunny day in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. North Texas senior Hope Trautwein trotted out to the pitching mound for her first start of the season. She readied herself in the circle, facing her opponent, taking a deep breath in and releasing her first pitch. She released several more and watched her first opponent shuffle back to the dugout. Strikeout. She prepared for the next two batters of the inning. Two batters, two strikeouts. She would continue this rhythm for six more innings, striking out three batters in each.
In the entire seven inning game, Hope would strike out 21 batters, personally securing every single out North Texas would record that day against the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff. In fact, not a single batter made contact with a pitch Hope threw. It was not through lack of trying. Of the 21 strikeouts, only four batters were caught looking. This means that 17 Golden Lions went down swinging, unable to weather the North Texas pitcher’s onslaught.
To place this mythic feat in context, it’s important to define a few softball or baseball terms. A ‘shutout’ occurs when a pitcher (and her team) ensure no runs are allowed during the game. She may have allowed hits and batters to get on base. A ‘no-hitter’ occurs when a pitcher throws a game in which no batter hits a ball into play, but the pitcher may surrender walks and allow batters to reach bases on errors. Finally, a pitcher only performs a ‘perfect game’ when no batter reaches a base through the entire game. This would be an excellent performance from the pitcher, but also an indication of a potentially stellar outing for the rest of the defense, as the pitcher could have allowed hits that were quickly translated into outs by the rest of her team.
Hope had a perfect game, but she also secured 21 outs. In Division I Softball history, only two other pitchers have secured 21 or more outs in a game, but neither pitched a perfect game. Given that the game only lasted seven innings, Hope secured every single out of the game with strikes. If the rest of the North Texas squad had decided to stay in the dugout when their opponents were at bat, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game.
Winning a championship is a worthy accomplishment, but there is a champion every single year. To be drafted first overall in a professional draft is an even more difficult task, but an athlete is drafted first every single year. What Hope Trautwein did on April 11th is a rare thing in sports and in life. She did something that has never been done before. For that, Hope Trautwein will be remembered as a legend.