Courtney Mirabella describes her pitching last season as somewhat disappointing.
That statement indicates how dominant she is on the mound.
Most high school pitchers in the country would relish her kind of disappointment. It would surely earn them hero’s status and a scholarship to one of the better collegiate softball programs in the state.
Mirabella’s “disappointment” included a fairy-tale night when the junior pitched a six-inning perfect game and struck out all 18 batters she faced in a 10-0 victory over McDowell High out of Erie, Pa.
It was an achievement worthy of the history books and one reason among many that she was selected the Bradenton Herald All-Area Softball Player of the Year for the second straight season.
The right-hander was disappointed that she didn’t equal the 300-plus strikeout mark (313) she reached as a sophomore, but that was because she pitched fewer innings.
Still, Mirabella fanned 241 batters in 123 2/3 innings, which gave her a state-leading 1.96 strikeouts-per-inning ratio, according to MaxPreps.
Pitching fewer innings allowed Mirabella to concentrate more on her hitting, and the part-time centerfielder responded with a career-high .373 batting average. She finished third on her team with an OPS (on-base/slugging percentage) of .905.
“I thought my sophomore year was a little bit better, and we had a goal to make it to states again and didn’t so that was disappointing,” Mirabella said. “My pitching coach went to coach at college, and I was left to work on my own at the beginning of the season. But things went OK. I didn’t change much.”
What Mirabella couldn’t and didn’t want to change was her competitive nature. It is a significant factor in her success and a reason she is at her best in big games.
When Mirabella heard that McDowell was saying some uncomplimentary things about her and her teammates, it riled her up to pitch her historic perfect game.
She was perfect against Sarasota and powerful Auburn-bound slugger Jade Rhodes, defeating the Sailors all three times she faced them, including the district championship game.
“Beating them three times was probably the highlight of my season because they are a really good team and it’s hard to keep them off the bases,” Mirabella said. “I just love playing the game, especially against the good teams, and I want to win states real bad next season.”
In four postseason games, Mirabella pitched two shutouts and allowed one run in another. Unfortunately it was a 1-0 loss to Okeechobee that ended the Pirates’ season at 23-5. But Mirabella pitched a gem, with 73 of her 97 pitches going for strikes while striking out 14 and allowing only four hits without giving up an earned run. The only run came on a second-inning error.
In the past two seasons, using her arsenal of pitches and a blazing fastball, Mirabella has struck out 554 batters in 288 innings for a 1.92 average per inning.