Whether it’s sports, academics or just hitting the wastebasket with a wad of paper, if you’re lucky, there are days when you can’t miss.
Monday, April 22, was such a day for Anna Borrazzo. But the South Burlington High School softball pitcher wasn’t just in the zone, she owned it.
Borrazzo etched her name in the annals of Wolves’ sports history by not only pitching a perfect game (no hits, no walks and no batters reaching base), but also hitting at the plate. All four times that Borrazzo stepped into the batter’s box in that 18-0 win over Spalding High School, she got a hit. And as if that’s not enough, with a single, two doubles and a homerun, she was just a triple short of hitting for the cycle (getting a single, a double, a triple and a homer in one game).
“I’ve had some strong players in the past,” said the Wolves’ co-head coach Matt Lumsden, “but I’ve never seen anything like that. It was just a magical day.”
Although Lumsden is in his first year at South Burlington, he’s also coached softball at U32, Colchester and Spaulding.
So far, this has been a special season for the South Burlington High School softball team. After their April 25 win over Rice High School, 28-0, the Wolves were 6-1 for the season.
“Essex is the tell-all game,” said co-head coach Lyndsay Lesage. The Wolves faced Essex High School on Tuesday but results were not available at press time.
Borrazzo has been a big part of the team’s success this season, having pitched every game, but she talks more about her teammates and how great they are. She delights in how long they’ve played together.
“We’ve got about 10 players that have been together since we were like 9 years old and it definitely shows on the field,” Borrazzo said. “We work pretty well together and can tell when someone’s a little off. Our team chemistry is great.”
But Lumsden said that one of Borrazzo’s biggest assets is her humility.
“She recognizes that any accomplishments are team accomplishments,” he said.
The team has had one lapse this season, a 6-4 loss to Bellows Free Academy - St. Albans. The Wolves had one bad inning with a spate of throwing errors that scored runs for the opposing team.
Although they lost, it may have turned out to be a character-building moment for the team.
Rather than getting down on each other when her South Burlington teammates got off the field and into the dugout, Borrazzo said, the team came together and started cheering each other.
After that, they scored four runs in a comeback that fell short.
“This year they really seem to connect, and they all want what’s best for the team,” said Matt Sear, the Wolves’ pitching coach. “That’s helped Anna and helped the whole team.”
He said he saw a change before the season started.
“They came in with the right attitude,” he said. “They pushed each other in tryouts.”
“She is an all-around natural player,” Sear said of Barrazzo. “She’s got a really beautiful swing. It was there last year, but this year she’s connecting with the ball.”
But everything hasn’t been smooth sailing for Barrazzo this year. The day after her perfect game, April 23, she had a rough beginning against Burlington at Leddy Field.
Borrazzo started the game with 16 straight balls before getting a strike. She walked the first two batters.
Lesage said that she doesn’t think she’s ever seen Borrazzo walk two hitters in a row.
“I talked to her between innings,” said Sear.
He said he doesn’t like to go out to the mound during an inning because he doesn’t like to interrupt the flow.
“She got through the first inning and we worked on some of adjustments,” he said.
She took some heat off the ball and instead concentrated on placement.
Lumsden said another problem was that the field was spongy. Borrazzo’s left foot was digging a hole in front of the mound stepped as she released her pitch - a hole that got so deep that he couldn’t see her ankle when she stepped into it.
Borrazzo said she quit trying to fill the hole back in after each pitch and just pitched off the solid ground. She incorporated Sear’s advice into her pitching and the Wolves took a 19-6 win.
For the rest of the game, Borrazzo notched 14 strikeouts and six of those came with the batter looking, Lesage said.
But the struggles carried over to a Thursday game against Rice. Borrazzo didn’t start out pitching so well. She was in pain. Her leg hurt from her struggles on the pitching mound on Tuesday, but she didn’t want to come out.
“She wanted to power through it,” Lesage said. “She likes being on the mound. She doesn’t like to give up that spot.”
Borrazzo said that Rice was hitting the ball, but her teammates were backing her up, and the South Burlington bats came alive for a 28-0 win.
A sibling softball rivalry
Borrazzo comes from a family of softball pitchers. She has been playing since her tee-ball years. She watched her older sister Becky learning to pitch and decided to try it herself.
Both sisters were pitchers for South Burlington before Becky graduated last year and entered Cornell University last fall. The sisters probably would have competed for the pitching spot last year, but Becky tore her ACL before the season and Anna became the go-to pitcher.
Younger sister Emily is in the eighth grade and some think that she may be even better than Anna.
“Everyone jokes around. ‘Watch out, your replacement’s coming,’” Anna said.
Sear said that he thinks that her younger sister is one of the reasons that Anna’s doing so well. “She’s trying to stay a step ahead.”
Before Borrazzo pitched her perfect game, Sear wasn’t expecting it, but he wasn’t surprised. “She really hits her spots. She could probably do it again, and do it consistently,” he said.
All three of the Wolves’ coaches lauded their team’s cohesiveness, ability to overcome struggles and support for each other.
“At the point when you don’t have do anything as coach but sit back and watch talent, it’s really a lot of fun,” said Sear.