When Davis High’s Becky Nakano stepped into the circle for one last regular season home game on Senior Day, all she was trying to do was cap off a strong softball season with another quality start. Nakano executed that plan — to perfection.
The Blue Devils’ senior right-hander tossed a perfect game on Tuesday to lead DHS to a 4-0 win over Franklin on the last game of the season. And while Nakano’s masterpiece will long be remembered by Davis fans, she wasn’t the only graduating player receiving the program’s accolades.
Devil second baseman Brittany Bloomfield, a four-year varsity player, walked down the third-base line with her parents to the cheers of spectators. Catcher Emily Glass, who hit .341 in her three years with the big club, was behind the plate for her teammate’s gem. And when pitcher/first baseman Kaitlyn Grim walked off the field, DHS lost a star with a 2.28 ERA over three years in the circle.
“This is a group that’s been together four years,” said Davis assistant coach David Reuben. “You’ll never see that again. That’s a very special group, and they honored themselves with their play (Tuesday).”
But to avoid ending up like former MLB pitcher Harvey Haddix, who hurled 12 perfect innings only to lose the game in the 13th, Nakano would need her teammates to grind out some runs against her Franklin counterpart Chantelle Oakley, a quality hurler in her own right.
Melanie Habib helped the Blue Devils (13-8, 8-2 Delta Valley Conference) get on the scoreboard in the first inning. After working a four-pitch walk, Habib moved into scoring position when the Wildcat shortstop couldn’t reel in a throw. Haley Cameron’s groundout to second moved Habib to third, and the DHS junior completed the small ball exhibition by dashing home on a wild pitch.
In the next inning, Nakano poked a single through the right side and was replaced on the base paths by Chelsea Brent. Rita Allen-Sutter advanced Brent with a sacrifice bunt, which was mishandled by Franklin’s second baseman, and Bloomfield walked to load the bases.
Next, Oakley flipped the ball home for the out on Stephanie Cello’s tapper, but the sophomore speedster’s quickness down the line resulted in a throw into right field by Franklin’s catcher. Allen-Sutter dashed home on the overthrow, and Cello later came around to score on Habib’s single.
Nakano’s perfecto didn’t come easy, though. She battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out one batter, and was often aided by Glass’ experience from four years behind the plate. On the final play, Habib had to make a backhanded slide and fire across the diamond for an out that sent Nakano leaping into Bloomfield’s arms.
“Emily and I just really clicked, and we really had a good strike zone (from the umpire). I just felt like the time was right, I guess,” Nakano said. “(The seniors) have all played together since we were seven, and it means so much to be out there one more time.”
Davis now turns its attention to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, where it will face an undetermined opponent from the Center Coast Conference, which consists of teams from around Merced. The Devils are the second-place team in the DVC, behind Elk Grove, and will play the CCC’s top team at 9 a.m. on May 21.
Notes: Reuben used words like “outstanding” and “clutch” to describe Nakano’s performance. … This was the first time this season that DHS won a league game that wasn’t by mercy rule. … Nakano (San Francisco State) and Grim (Willamette) will both pitch in college next year. Glass will play for Claremont-McKenna, while Bloomfield plans to become a pre-med student at University of Nevada at Reno, University of San Diego or UCLA.
— Reach Benjy Egel at [email protected]