When the shades are on, Shea O’Leary is seemingly unstoppable.
O’Leary, who is never seen in the circle without sunglasses tucked under her burnt orange Nike headband, completed a perfect game Wednesday night against Baylor.
The right-handed pitcher has her own hashtag on twitter, #feartheshades, and she’s proven to be a force deserving of some fear.
“I have no words and I can’t believe it,” O’Leary said of her performance. “(It’s a) good thing they didn’t tell me. In the seventh, I was aware, but I was trying to just stay calm and just go out there and just throw.”
The Longhorns put just two runs on the board in all seven innings, scoring their second run in the fifth inning when second baseman Janae Jefferson hit the ball to the left center field. The ball was dropped by the Bears in the infield, allowing center fielder Reagan Hathaway to run it in.
“It was (a team effort),” O’Leary said. “(Head) coach (Mike) White had great pitch calling and so I was just out there having fun with my team behind me. … I’m so happy.”
O’Leary has been a force behind the ball for most of the season. She is one of just two freshman pitchers in NCAA Division I to hold at least a 10–0 record. After tonight’s performance, she holds a era of 0.40.
“She just goes out there and does her job,” White said. “She lets the defense play and … most of the plays were kind of routine, but you know making the routine plays is not always easy sometimes so I thought it was just a special game to be apart of and I’m real proud of Shea.”
Both White and O’Leary emphasized that the 2-0 win would not have happened without a solid team effort.
“I thought the defense did a great job behind her, and they were in the right position most of the game,” White said.
Looking ahead, Texas will play a series against Oklahoma State this weekend. After a win like Wednesday’s, it’s clear the Longhorns are able to withstand a tough competitor.
“I think we took advantage of a couple of miscues tonight, which is what good teams do,” White said. “You’re not always gonna bash the ball over the fence, and their pitcher threw very well tonight, as well.”
Texas’ pitching success doesn’t just come from the arm of O’Leary. Miranda Elish, who was named pitcher of the week by the Big 12 Conference and the National Fastpitch Coaches Association earlier this week, has also made quite an impact on the Longhorns’ accomplishments.
“We talk about a three-headed monster, and so you start thinking about the pitching staff in that term and that we can throw three to four different pitches out there,” White said. “(I) have confidence that we can do well with anyone out there, but right now we just have to build a little bit on our heading and scoring some more runs.”