Phoenix Veritas Prep junior Lainey Stephenson struck out the 1,000th batter of her varsity high school career on Wednesday in an 11-5 win against Tempe.
She needed six to reach 1,000 and struck out 15, giving her 1,009 in her three-year career. It is believed she is only the fourth girl in the country to ever strike out 1,000 batters from 43 feet. That distance was moved back from 40 feet in the the 2000-01 school year.
Last year, Phoenix Horizon’s Tamara Statman, now at the University of Arizona, surpassed 1,000 strikeouts in a career, the first girl in Arizona to accomplish that feat since the distance was moved back.
“She honestly was not tracking her Ks this season and did not know that she was near the mark,” said Mike Stephenson, Lainey’s dad and one of the coaches at Veritas Prep. “So it was a bit of a surprise for everyone.
“Our athletic director and I discussed it. He talked to the umpires before the game to let them know of the milestone, and to ask for some indulgence for us to be able to call time out and mark the occasion, regardless of where we were at in the inning.”
The 1,000th strikeout ended the third inning.
After the girls ran in to bat, a time out was called, asking the girls to go back on the field.
“I quietly explained to them that this time last year Tamara Statman broke a record, and today Lainey did the same,” Mike said. “We had a very brief congratulations on the mound. Our umpires shook her hand and congratulated her, handed her the ball and we moved on to finish the game.”
Mike said Lainey had been up until 4 a.m. working on a homework assignment that day, so it was hard for her to appreciate the significance until after the game.
The umpire who worked the game behind the plate was the same umpire who worked behind the plate two years ago when Stephenson pitched consecutive perfect games.
Veritas is 7-7 so far this season.
Stephenson struck out 381 batters her freshman year, 468 her sophomore season. She is now at 160 in 76 2/3 innings this season.