Yard’s perfect game sparks softball to strong season
By Carl Stoffers
Kean softball pitcher Courtney Yard took the mound on April 1 with the same approach she always does. But it wasn’t long before she knew something special was brewing against New Jersey City University.
“I didn’t approach that game any differently,” said Yard, “but, as the game was going on, my arm felt good and I was in the zone. All the girls behind me were doing their jobs, too. We were all just playing hard, but once I knew that I was on that roll I had to remember to stay focused and keep throwing the game I was throwing.”
The game she was throwing was a gem, and it turned out to be the first perfect game in Kean softball history. In the 9-0 shutout of the Gothic Knights, Yard struck out seven batters while cruising through the NJCU order.
“That day, she was on with all of her pitches,” said head coach Margie Acker. “Plus, you factor in how hard she throws the ball and that, in combination with her ball movement, made her that much better that day.”
A superstitious athlete, Yard adhered to the time-honored baseball edict that says a perfect game should not be mentioned while it’s in progress for fear of “jinxing” the performance.
“All the girls know how I am about that stuff,” said the junior pitcher, “so no one said anything about the perfect game as it was happening. We all knew, but we didn’t want to say it. I’m the most superstitious person you’ll ever meet.”
Yard’s perfect game was just the highlight of a spectacular season in which she’s recorded a sparkling 1.17 ERA. She leads the pitching staff in all major categories, including wins (13) and strikeouts (125).
“Courtney Yard is a special athlete,” said coach Acker. “Coming out of high school, she was the pitcher of the year in state of New Jersey, so when she committed to Kean we knew we were getting something special that doesn’t come around all the time. Her hard work and work ethic alone make her very good, and then put the talent on top of that, she is a special kind of athlete. She excels at everything she does, both on the field and in the classroom.”
The softball team has lofty goals as the regular season winds down, and Acker is confident about the direction the team is heading. Kean is currently fighting for the top spot in the NJAC standings with an impressive 25-9 record.
“The regional tournament is where we want to get to first, and then the College World Series,” said Acker. “I believe that if we keep our composure and work hard, if we control the controllables, we definitely have a chance to get there.”