Rachele Fico had been perfect 20 times before. On Thursday, she was historic.
In slinging her 21st career perfect game, the Mazuk (Monroe, Conn.) High senior, who has dropped only two decisions in her four-year career, set the national high school record, supplanting Melissa Marzan of Fresno, Calif. atop the ranks. Marzan's record had stood since her prep career ended in 2001.
"Some teams might have a prima donna in that situation," said Mazuk coach Jacqui Sheftz. "Rachele's the humblest kid I know."
The LSU-bound hurler's first chance at history was rained out Wednesday against Notre Dame (Fairfield, Conn.), but the delay did not affect her. Striking out 14 Bethel (Conn.) High batters while swinging, she only went to a two-ball count once. In the third inning, Courtney Chandler, a Bethel batter, was hit by a pitch as she swung. Ruled a strike instead of a free base, the record remained in reach while Chandler left the game.
"Rachele knows it has to be difficult for the fielders to be on the ball so ftheir feet all game and want to make sure they don't mess up," said Sheftz. "If you miss one, you may not see another ball for three games."
Fico struck out all 21 batters she faced in the the 9-0 shutout, which qualified Mazuk for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament. The victory also ran Fico's career win-loss record to 87-2 with 1,547 career strikeouts, 78 shutouts, 41 no-hitters and those 21 perfect games.
The Panthers are currently undefeated and have won 59 straight games. The reigning champs will play 12 more times in the regular season before playoffs. "We've won a lot of games because of that girl," Sheftz said.