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Samantha Albanese was sore last week.
|Thirty seven strikeouts later, Samantha Albanese was happy to get the win.|
The Castilleja (Palo Alto, Calif.) High School junior pitched a 14-inning game that resulted in a 3-2 win over Sequoia (Redwood City, Calif.) High School. It also resulted in 37 batters being sent to the bench after striking out. Albanese, who pitched the entire game and dominated the mound, might have been tired, but no one could tell.
"I was exhausted," said Albanese. "The game was more mentally exhausting because I had to be so focused. One pitch could end the game."
"Physically, my legs killed me for the next two or three days. They were pretty much the bane of my existence at that point," she continued.
Her mentality on the mound is to always be one step ahead of the batter. It could get tiring having to outsmart opponents for 14 innings, the equivalent of two games.
"I just took the game one pitch at a time," she said. "At the same time, I have to look ahead to get the batter off balance. I'm always thinking about what I have to throw now to get the batter off balance later. Other than that I just focus on each pitch, keep a steady pace and keep my head where it needs to be to make things easier for the team."
She made things as easy as possible for the Castilleja defense, but Albanese didn't even realize she had struck out 37 girls until after to game.
"I had no idea it was 37," she said. "When I heard the number afterward I was like, 'What? No way!'"
She realized that she was doing well, but not to such a great extent. "I mean, I noticed that I had struck out some batters but when I realized it was so many it was unbelievable; I didn't realize I was capable of something like that."
Not only did Albanese prove to herself that she is capable of great things, but her team proved that they are a tough and strong-willed team. When the game was over, Albanese was proud of her team and the way they all performed.
"First of all, I was happy we won. Second of all, the team didn't give up. It would have been easy to throw in the towel but I was proud that we pushed through."
Albanese was quick to credit her team for the victory, but with 37 strikeouts, it is no secret that she had a lot to do with the win. While she was surprised when she heard the news, she couldn't help be pleased with her performance.
"I was in shock," she said. "I was proud of myself but mostly I was in disbelief."
Albanese was on a mission, not to strike out as many batters as possible, but to help her team take the "W".
"I was just worried about doing anything I could to pull through and win the game," she said. "Our teams were very evenly matched and I wanted to prove that we could take on anybody. I was just doing my part to help us get the victory."
She certainly did her part to help the team, but she also helped get one step closer to her goal for this year.
"I really believe that this team can go far into playoffs," said the right-handed hurler. "We have never made it past the first round and this year I really think we can get past that hurdle. That is the biggest goal for the team but we also would like to stay undefeated in league. Anything more than that is icing on the cake."
The junior has verbally committed to play her college ball for the Northwestern Wildcats.
"I like looking forward because it is so great to see what I'm going to get to do," she said. "I went out and saw them play this year and I can't wait."
She will have to wait because in order for the team to reach its goals, they will need her on the mound. For now, Albanese is fine with waiting.
"Right now I'm happy where I am and I want to savor every moment."
Garland Cooper covers high school softball for ESPN RISE.