With Hebron Christian School on the verge of a district title, Tuesday’s 12-1 victory over Calhoun Academy clinched a fifth consecutive playoff appearance for the Lady Eagles.
A landmark in itself, but for pitcher Chloe Tapley, it solidified her as one of the best pitchers in the MAIS.
Tapley again had another stellar outing in the circle, just three hits given up to compliment 13 strikeouts.
Nothing new for the junior, who over the last few weeks had pitched three straight no-hitters.
But this game was a little more memorable, even if she didn’t realize it because after the seventh strikeout, Tapley did what few pitchers have ever done; reach the 1,000 K’s milestone which now stands at 1,006 in 646 career innings.
Her head coach, Cass Tapley, had kept up with the numbers over the years and said after filling out a recruiting form this season, she was just 30 strikeouts away. After posting 23 in two games last weekend, she needed seven more.
“I had no idea I was even this close to having that many,” said Tapley, who has 199 strikeouts this season alone.
Cass Tapley said she doesn’t keep up with how many she has in a season, let alone a game.
“I went and told her when she came off the field since we were winning anyway, and that’s the first she heard about it,” he said. And her reaction, well there wasn’t much of one. “Oh okay,” Cass Tapley recalls. “The team reacted more than she did.”
But that’s her style. Tapley prefers to show little emotion during the game, at least not the ra-ra type. There are times where she shows frustration, but all she thinks about is where her next pitch is going to be.
“As long as they’re winning, she’ll be alright,” Cass Tapley said. “If we start losing, she’ll let a little more emotion show.”
It’s nothing to hear of players breaking records, whether it’s touchdown passes, homeruns and even saves, there’s something special about an athlete that can do what so many will never even come close to. How do they do it? Commitment, and Tapley has it.
“She always works at it,” Cass Tapley said. “She’s worked at it since she was nine years old. Even now, she’ll still work on it. She won’t go more than two or three days without practicing. That’s the key.”
“I put a lot of dedication in to year around,” Tapley said. “I think if I started towards April I would have never reached that.”
Surely throwing that much all the time would slow down any athlete, but for Tapley, it’s not an issue.
“It gets sore every now and then, but it’s not too bad,” she said.
Tapley hopes that by the end of her high school career she can reach 1,500 strikeouts and maybe have enough accolades to help get her a softball scholarship.
But right now Tapley is helping the Lady Eagles get to the postseason and has her eye on a much bigger prize, the state championship which is currently showcased at Bayou Academy, where it’s been for the last several years. Last season the Lady Eagles finished third.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to, making it to state and getting far,” she said.
Hopefully the Lady Colts catch wind of her accolade and think twice about stepping in the batter’s box if the two teams should meet down the road.