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Pirates pitcher oblivious to perfect performance

Emily Bayer was in her own world Tuesday night against Dunnellon, so much so that the Crystal River junior was unaware of what she had accomplished until somebody else pointed it out.

"My father came up to me after the game and said, "Do you know what you just did?' and I was like, "No,' " Bayer said.

"I thought I had done something wrong, but then he said, "You just pitched a perfect game.' I was shocked."

Maybe she shouldn't be. Bayer _ a transfer from Lecanto, where she was an honorable mention Times All-Citrus/Hernando pick last spring _ is 5-0 and had a 0.24 ERA prior to Tuesday's 14-strikeout effort in a 3-0 win.

"I'm not totally surprised that she got a no-hitter," Pirates coach Lanna Hough said. "Every game she pitches, there's one, two or three hits, so there's never a lot of hits. The big shock was that she had a perfect game and had 14 strikeouts. Her rise ball kept them off balance the whole game. That, and her change of speeds."

During Bayer's performance, her teammates talked with each other about what was happening _ but not with Bayer. It is a cardinal sin in softball to mention no-hitters and perfect games to the pitcher, because it is thought to be a sure-fire jinx.

"We didn't want to say anything to put bad luck on it," shortstop Ashley Williams said. "We kept it to ourselves."

How did Bayer remain oblivious? One contributing factor was the closeness of the game. Crystal River (9-2) led 1-0 after four innings and never seemed comfortably ahead. That forced Bayer to concentrate on every at-bat and little else.

"I was focused," Bayer said. "I was just trying to get three up and three down."

A perfect game, of course, is a team effort.

"The defense did a good job," Hough said. "Nothing got past them. They caught everything that came to us and got the girls out."

Bayer's bid was threatened several times. In the fifth, a Dunnellon grounder bounced off one infielder and into the glove of another, who threw to first base for the out. In the sixth inning, Bayer recovered from a 3-0 count to record a strikeout. With two outs in the seventh, she faced a 3-1 count before striking out Melissa Seeber to end the game.

"After the game, we were all excited for her," Hough said.

That enthusiasm carried over into Wednesday, when Bayer's performance was the talk of the school. "Somebody came up to me and said, "Wow, Ms. Perfect,' " Bayer said. "I guess that's all right."

Crystal River plays at Citrus tonight at 6.