Courtney Mirabella's freshman year at N.C. State has been a period of adjustment that involves exercising patience.
The three-time Bradenton Herald Player of the Year from Braden River knew playing time would be hard to get this year.
She is backing up the 2013 ACC Pitcher of the Year Emily Weiman, a junior, and in college softball a lot of coaches allow one pitcher to dominate innings pitched.
It meant Mirabella would likely not be in the limelight this year, but the right-hander proved last weekend she is still capable of generating headlines.
Mirabella threw a no-hitter against FAMU during an 8-0 win, allowing only one runner on a hit batter in five innings. She struck out six with only three balls getting out of the infield in the first game of a doubleheader at the University of Florida. Colleges have an eight-run mercy rule after the opposing team bats five times.
It was only the third no-hitter thrown by a freshman in the history of the N.C. State softball program. For Mirabella, it arguably couldn't have come at a better time.
"I was feeling strong and getting ahead of the batters, and that really helped me." Mirabella said from Raleigh, N.C. "I injured my hip early in the season, and it hurt my confidence until I fully recovered. I wasn't as strong as I could be, but now I feel I can pitch every day and my confidence is picking up."
Weiman has pitched 185 innings compared to 49 1/3 for Mirabella and 4 1/3 for the Wolfpack's third pitcher.
Mirabella improved her record to 4-2 and has a 3.55 ERA with 50 strikeouts while holding opposing hitters to a team-best .226 batting average.
"The college game is a lot more slowed down. Before every pitch you have to think about what you are going to do and know where the defense is playing. It involves a lot more thinking," Mirabella said. "I am just trying to learn as much as I can and get better. It's fun, and I love it here."
After her no-hitter, Mirabella was called on to relieve Weiman, who struggled against sixth-ranked Florida, giving up five runs in the first inning.
Mirabella entered the game in the bottom of the first with one out and runners at the corners and retired two straight batters. Florida scored four runs in the fourth.
"I pitched pretty decent against Florida. They have really good hitters," Mirabella said. "A lot of my old teammates (from travel ball) play for them, and that is the level that I want to be able to pitch against."