Castleton Junior Olivia Joy took the mound to start the seventh inning vs. West Connecticut the same way she started the other six.
The wind was blowing out, her teammates were hyping her up, and she wouldn’t let anyone touch the ball before she went out.
The only difference?
Unbeknownst to Joy, she had kept West Conn. out of the hit column for the previous six innings of the game, which was the first game of a doubleheader.
“I honestly had no idea I had a no-hitter until coach told us after the game,” Joy said. Like Joy, most of her teammates were oblivious to the phenomenon they were witnessing. But for the coaching staff, on the other hand, there’s a different story.
“The assistant coach and I knew, but we didn’t talk about it. I knew he knew, and he knew I knew, but we never said a word to each other,” said head coach Eric Ramey. “It’s probably better off if the kids didn’t know about it,” Ramey added. Joy shares this sentiment, believing that it would’ve been a distraction for her.
“If you ask people, I am very superstitious so everything was the same throughout the game,” Joy said. “I would have started overthinking the game,” Joy added.
Although Joy had held West Conn. hitless, the two teams were only separated by one run.
“It was a 1-0 game in that last inning, and the wind was blowing out. Any hitter could’ve hit it out if they put it in the air,” Ramey said. Because of the tight game, Joy’s teammates didn’t even recognize Joy was working on a no-hitter.
“We were so focused on what we were doing as a whole, rather than what she was doing alone, so we didn’t even know until after the game when coach said ‘you just threw a no-hitter,’ and we were all super excited for her,” said Kylie Wright, who pitched the second game of the doubleheader.
“It was a huge accomplishment to do and I am proud of myself and the hard work and fight I put in, but I am prouder of the team.” Joy said. “I couldn’t have done it without them and all the hard work we put in,” Joy added.
After the no-hitter, which was Castleton’s first since 2016, Joy’s first words to coach Ramey might not have been what you would expect.
“Growing up, I was never a hitter. I only pitched. I never had an at-bat in high school,” Joy said. Joy says she has joked with her teammates and coaches about the idea of her getting a chance to hit, because she’s “never had the chance to experience an at–bat.”
“Apparently, somewhere along the line I agreed that if she threw a no-hitter, she would get an at-bat, and that’s the first thing she said to me when she came off the field. She goes, ‘you owe me an at-bat!’,” Ramey said, laughing hysterically.
“Now that I have a possibility of actually having an at-bat, it’s pretty nerve wracking, but it’s something I would love to do,” Joy said.
As improbable as a no-hitter is, the second game of the doubleheader had an equally unlikely outcome, as the score was tied at 2-2 after the seventh inning. The two teams battled for an extra six innings, with Castleton pulling away in the 13th inning to win 10-7.
To add to the improbability, senior Kylie Wright stayed on the mound for all 13 innings.
“I’m just very competitive, and I didn’t really perform well hitting-wise, so that was my role for that game, to help out my teammates who did perform well on the bats,” Wright said.
Needless to say, Wright did a solid job of picking up her teammates, as she took on the workload of pitching almost two games worth of innings in one game.
Part of the decision to let Wright stay in for the whole game was her own determination and commitment.
“She was really efficient, but around the ninth she went over the 100 pitch mark, and then we were asking her every half-inning, ‘how do you feel?’ She just kept saying she was good,” Ramey said.
“I was doing it for my teammates, because our goal is to win our games, and that’s what kept me going,” Wright said.
“We had players ready to go if we needed it, but as long as she said she was good, we were going to give her the opportunity to win it or lose it,” Ramey added. “I didn’t feel good about her going 13, but she expressed no interest in coming out of the game,” Ramey continued.
The doubleheader sweep of West Conn. wasn’t the end. Their hot streak continued into the week with another doubleheader sweep, this time of Keene State.
Before they took on Keene State however, Jess Heinrichs was awarded LEC Rookie of the Week honors.
“It feels really rewarding to be acknowledged, and have my accomplishments be shown,” Heinrichs said.
Compared to the rest of the team, Heinrichs is at a disadvantage because she plays soccer in the fall.
“Jess just kind of had to find her way without having the fall-ball season,” Ramey said.
It’s not uncommon for freshman athletes to see reduced playing time when having to compete on a team with upperclassmen who have already established themselves. However, Ramey finds value in the versatility that Heinrichs possesses.
“I’m only a freshman so I didn’t expect to play as much as I am, so I try to bring a good attitude to the team, and support them,” Heinrichs said.
Fortunately for Heinrichs, Ramey sees her as much more than a supporting cast member.
“She adds a very competitive nature, and she’s really stepped up and taken advantage of her opportunities. She can play in the outfield, she pitches a little bit, she has good at-bats, she runs well, she’s a good addition,” Ramey said, praising the young talent. “She has a really high ceiling,” Ramey added.
Heinrichs attributed the honor to the upperclassmen, and the sisterhood the team has.
“They have had the greatest impact. They’re such a great group of girls and each of them individually has impacted me. They help me play a better game,” Heinrichs said.