EAST LANSING – Meghan Beaubien was perfect … and then some.
Beaubien struck out 13 of the 15 batters she faced this afternoon as Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central defeated Gladstone, 13-0, in a five-inning mercy-rule, perfect game in a Division 3 softball semifinal game.
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You had the feeling Beaubien (22-1) was headed for a special game when the first three Gladstone hitters were called out on strikes.
“We didn’t work inside as much as I normally do,” Beaubien said. “We went out because that seemed to be working for us. We’d go up a lot and, mainly, just the rise and the change combination — that’s really hard for hitters to get, and that worked all day.”
St. Mary CC (27-5) wrapped up this one early by scoring four runs in the top of the first inning.
“We have just hitting practices and we really go really hard on it,” said catcher Kenna Garst, who used two triples and a single to drive in three runs. “We like to pounce first — jump on you first — and then go from there. We take our energy and work.”
The Kestrels added a pair of runs in the second inning, and Beaubien was able to cruise.
“Anytime you can open up a first inning and put up four runs … ” said CC coach John Morningstar. “I always say three to four runs is the kiss of death when you’re facing her. Her ERA is 0.36.”
CC will try to win its second consecutive title at 3 p.m. Saturday when it faces Grandville Calvin Christian.
The experience Beaubien gained here last year made her more comfortable when she faced Gladstone (27-14), which won its latest state title two years ago.
“I wouldn’t tell anybody, but last year, I was pretty nervous. Both games,” she said. “This year, I’m super comfortable. You always have butterflies in your stomach, but I wasn’t near as nervous as I was last year. I was just really confident.”
The first five Gladstone batters struck out before No. 6 bunted and was thrown out at first. Only one other batter hit the ball in fair territory, and that was a grounder to the first baseman in the fifth inning.
“I guess I was kind of aware of it the whole game,” she said. “I knew nobody had gotten on or, otherwise, I would have remembered when they came back up in the order — what they did and how I want to pitch them the next time.”
The 13 strikeouts raised Beaubien’s season total to 371 in 180 1/3 innings.
“I get a lot of them, but I don’t want to say I expect it,” she said. “If you go in expecting strikeouts, you’re not going to be as precise as you want to be. It just comes when you execute your pitches really well, and I’ve always worked on them really hard and I know what I want to throw, and Kenna does a great job knowing what to throw batters, too.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.