Friday, March 6, 2020. That is a date that is cemented in Utah Valley athletics history, marking the first perfect game ever recorded in UVU softball history. The Wolverines beat Northern Colorado 9-0 in an all-around team effort highlighted by sophomore pitcher Brooke Carter’s record-setting performance.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a perfect game is a feat in softball and baseball where each batter on one team is retired in order, with no hitters safely reaching base. Although statistics for professional softball are not as accessible as in baseball, there have been only 23 official perfect games in Major League Baseball history, dating all the way back to June 12, 1880.
Following her perfect game, Carter gave her perspective on the accomplishment. In her own words, she described how normal the game felt from the beginning.
“It was really calm,” said Carter. “Everybody was just cheering, it was a really normal game. We had some really good plays that made the whole thing possible.”
Throwing a perfect game is generally regarded as a pitching stat, but Carter repeatedly stressed how her teammates’ effort contributed to the achievement. A diving stop at third base by junior Siena Sandoval and a line drive out made by junior Linnah Rebolledo in left field were critical to keeping the perfect game alive.
“Honestly, those plays stood out the most to me throughout the game because they really made it possible for me,” said Carter. “There were a bunch of flyouts that [sophomore] first baseman [Peyton] Prigge made. [Senior Lyndsay Steverson] made a really good catch at the end on a really high fly ball, too.”
Even as the game progressed, Carter said she tried to keep her mind off of what might be, and simply focused on getting one out at a time. For fear of jinxing Carter, her teammates remained quiet in the dugout — and, in superstitious fashion, made no mention of the perfect game in progress.
“In the fourth-inning I kind of understood what was going on,” said Carter. “I just told myself not to think about it. Every time I went out, I thought, ‘three outs and that’s it.’ I was laid back and it worked out. We are pretty superstitious — as most players are — so everybody knew but nobody said anything until the very end.”
Carter’s perfect game came in the first game of a double-header, so the team had to turn around almost immediately following the game to prepare to face Northern Iowa. The Wolverines shared an embrace after Carter forced the final out of the game and trounced UNC 9-0 before celebrating with a team dinner.
Carter started for UVU the following morning in a game against Omaha, which the Wolverines lost 12-2. Despite the success she had, Carter said she realizes that each game is different and challenging in its own way, and said she can’t change her expectations based on one outing.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, UVU canceled the remainder of its spring games and the softball team finished with a record of 12-7. The Wolverines showed exceptional talent both offensively and defensively, primarily as a result of the team’s chemistry.
“A lot of times when you have success you can get inside your own head and think ‘I can do this by myself,’” said Carter. “But you really can’t. When someone on the pitching staff has success, everybody else is so happy and supportive. We all work so hard together.”
For now, we can only wonder what might have been and wait to see how much of this year’s camaraderie will remain with next year’s team. Carter, at least, can begin to prepare for next season with pride for what she has already accomplished and hope for what is to come. She knows that any achievement — especially a perfect game — is defined by the preparation, more than the moment.
“I have played softball since I was little,” said Carter. “So I like to think about all of the hard nights and practices. It reminds me that I had to miss hanging out with friends and it just comes full circle when stuff like this happens. That’s something that motivates me, knowing that I worked for this and that it is all going to pay off in the end.”
Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics
Bridger Beal-Cvetko is a senior at Utah Valley University where he is studying journalism. He has been with the UVU Review since 2019, where he has covered the UVU men’s basketball team and the softball team during his time as Sports Editor. Bridger has also worked as a producer for ESPN 960 AM. Aside from sports, Bridger is an ardent cinephile, and loves reading fantasy and science fiction novels.