By Luke Johnson
Ayanna Sanchez, a freshman on Antioch High School’s varsity softball team, pitched the second perfect game in school history Thursday, March 19, in a 10-0 victory against Dublin. The other perfect game occurrence at Antioch was in 2001 from Melissa Baugh according to coach Nick Wisely.
Sanchez, who has been playing softball since she was 5 years old, is no stranger to throwing perfect games. She has done so on two separate occasions, both coming last year on her travel ball team.
“My defense had my back the entire game,” Sanchez said. “Without them, I would not have been able to throw a perfect game… I am proud to be playing for Antioch!”
Two plays that really set the tone of the game defensively came from senior Ciara Whitesell in centerfield. She made two over the shoulder catches in the right centerfield gap running in full stride. Sanchez struck out five batters in the contest, and after the Panthers went up 10-0 in the bottom of the fifth in the game was called due to mercy rule.
Throughout the season, Sanchez has an ERA of 2.90 and has 41 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. She is not only lethal on the mound, but also has a strong skillset offensively. She is batting .414, third best on the team behind senior shortstop Natalie Larsen (.474) and junior third baseman Julia Odom (.455), and has scored the most runs on the team with 10 through eight games.
Something unique about Sanchez is that she is not even a student Antioch High School. She attends Dozier-Libbey Medical High School, which has not been known for producing great athletes since its establishment in 2008.
The Panthers have been a little shaky as a team this season. They blew out Kennedy (Richmond), 32-0, in the season opener, but after that they lost three straight, getting shutout in the latter two. Now the team is red hot and currently possesses a four-game winning streak. In the past three games they have outscored their opponents 40-4. At 5-3 overall, the Panthers have the second best record in the Bay Valley Athletic League and will begin league play on April 14.
“Heritage is the team to beat for sure,” Wisely said in regards to contending for BVAL Championship, “But after that I think it is wide open… Every team is a possible playoff team, and anybody can beat anybody any given day. If we play the right ball, we can win day in and day out.”