Softball: Blackmon’s record-setting performance

Jermaine Johnson II

Exeter senior Brooklyn Blackmon breaks school’s pitching record for most strikeouts in a single game

EXETER – Brooklyn Blackmon has solidified herself as an all-time great in the athletic history at Exeter Union High School, and she didn’t even wait four full seasons to do it. On Thursday April 15, she pitched a no-hitter and tossed 19 strikeouts which broke a record that was nearly 10 years older than her.

The previous record was held by Tara Atkins who threw 17 strikeouts in 1995. When Blackmon took the mound on April 15 against Lindsay, she was locked in from the start. She opened with three strikeouts in the first inning, fueling the team with momentum which carried throughout the game.

One after another, the strikeouts kept coming and her offense backed up by getting runs on the board. Blackmon stayed locked in and didn’t dwell on the feat. She had no idea how many strikeouts she accumulated until after the game ended, and didn’t even know she had broken the school record until the next morning.

“[During the game,] I’m in the moment. I try not to think about that because if I do, I feel like it could just put a lot more pressure on myself. And I just like to have fun when I’m out there,” Blackmon said. “It’s a good accomplishment to get a no hitter because it doesn’t happen all the time, but I have a higher goal of getting a perfect game.”

Her higher goal was in reach as she was one walked batter away from pitching a perfect game. When reflecting back on the game, Blackmon focused little on her accomplishments and raved about the efforts of her teammates. It makes sense as to why the record breaking performance pales in comparison to her favorite accomplishment of winning the Division IV Valley Championship as a freshman.

Coming into high school, winning valley was a big goal for Blackmon. Being able to achieve it in her first year of high school was a surreal experience, and her appreciation for the feat has grown immensely since then. Now that she is in her last season, she has been able to fully fathom the fact that she was a freshman pitching against seniors. And she did it successfully as she earned a 19-6 record that season and pitched five strikeouts in the championship game with no runs allowed.

Coming off such a successful first season, Blackmon’s expectations for herself were through the roof. Unfortunately, adversity decided to slide in as she was involved in a car accident during the offseason. Her injuries lingered throughout her sophomore year. She couldn’t perform as well as she wanted, but her fiery competitive spirit forced her to play through it.

It undoubtedly had an effect on her game as her pitching stats dropped across the board and the team didn’t make it out the first round of playoffs. Junior year she was ready to go. She had a 5-1-1 record to start the season before COVID-19 stepped up to the plate and cut the season short.

“I’ve just had so much happen, so this year I was ready,” Blackmon said. “I was so excited to come out here and our goal is to win valley, but right now we’re just taking it game by game.”

Despite her excitement to get on the field this year, it was put on pause as she suffered another minor setback at the beginning of the season. Before the first game, she injured her thumb during practice which forced her to miss the team’s opening two games of the season. After not practicing for a month, her first game back was against a strong Fowler team that currently has a 10-1 record. She was a bit rusty as she gave up 10 runs in a 10-0 loss, but she’s had a strong bounce back. Since then, the team is 4-0. Last Friday they won their Central Sequoia League opener against Immanuel in a close 5-2 battle that went into extra innings. Blackmon threw 14 strikeouts with just one earned run. They played a non-league matchup yesterday against El Diamante which occurred after press time, and they’ll play their second CSL game on Friday, April 30, at Selma at 4 p.m.

Despite injuries and a lost season, Blackmon’s high school career caught the eye of regional college recruiters. Back in November, the senior pitcher signed an offer letter to play Division II softball next season at California State University, San Bernardino.

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