Tatum Clopton tosses perfect game to help Firebirds move on from last week
photo by: Carter Gaskins
Free State sophomore Tatum Clopton didn’t expect the ball to go over the fence.
With two strikes in the bottom of the fifth, Clopton unleashed a swing on an outside pitch. She initially thought it was going to result in a pop-up. Instead, Clopton actually clobbered it over the left-center fence for a two-run homer.
It was that kind of day for Clopton, who closed the book on a special performance with the two-run blast. She delivered the final blow of an 11-0 win over Gardner-Edgerton, while tossing a perfect game in the circle Tuesday night at FSHS.
“If it’s not (No. 1), it is probably pretty close,” Clopton said of where this game ranks in her career. “That game was exhilarating. It was such a fun game to play with everybody and the whole team got involved.”
Clopton (8-0) threw a total of 52 pitches, striking out 11 of the 15 batters she faced.
The Oklahoma State commit had two different innings with three strikeouts, as she accomplished the feat on nine pitches in the second and then whiffed three Gardner-Edgerton batters in the third. Clopton also sat down three batters on eight pitches in one frame.
In addition, Clopton scored three of the team’s 11 runs, drawing a pair of walks in her first two plate appearances.
“We know what we are going to get on the mound,” FSHS head coach Lee Ice said. “She been struggling with the bat the last three or four games. She shortened up her swing yesterday in BP. I liked the way she was going the other way today.”
It was total domination by the defending state champions, as each of the top seven batters recorded a hit. It was a strong response by a team that dropped its first two contests of the season during a doubleheader last week.
Free State (12-2, 8-0 Sunflower League) proved out of the gate that there would be no lingering impact from last week. The first four batters all reached base and eventually scored in the bottom of the first.
Sophomore Georgia Rea and freshman Jasmine Brixius both tallied a single to start things off. Sophomore Sara Roszak eventually came through with an RBI single as well to contribute to the four-run outburst in the opening frame.
FSHS tacked on three runs in the home half of the second, all coming off the bat of freshman Kay Lee Richardson, who drove in five runs on a 2-for-3 effort at the plate. She clubbed a three-run double in the second, which scored freshman Maci Miles along with Rea and Clopton.
“We were really ready to prove everything we had,” Clopton said. “We used that low point as a building block. I think the pressure is off, because we are not expected to go undefeated. Now we are just ready to show who we really are.”
The Firebirds wrapped up the mercy-rule victory by scoring three runs in the fifth. Senior Lauryn Jones recorded a double, while senior Emma Stanwix notched a single. Rea eventually scored a run with an RBI single before Clopton closed things out with the game’s only blast.
“We have been working so long for this game,” Clopton said. “I knew going into it that there were a lot of good players on that team. So I was really coming with my ‘A’ game.”
Free State will travel to Olathe East at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.