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Perfection is a phenomena. History is unique. North Texas softball’s Hope Trautwein managed to find a middle ground between the two with a pitching performance that is the first of its kind in DI: A 21-strikeout perfect game.

Sunday’s 3-0 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff wasn’t Trautwein’s first outing in which she’d held a team hitless. The senior already had a pair of no-hitters to her name from her underclassman campaigns. It wasn’t even her first time striking out 21 batters in a game. She did that as a junior in 2020.

This one was different. Seven innings pitched. Twenty one batters faced. All going down on strikes. Not a single live ball in play. 

“That was a great performance by Hope,” UNT head coach Rodney DeLong said in a school release. “Any time she gets the ball, she never surprises us with the success she has. She’s the hardest worker on our team, she brings it every day and she deserves all the credit and all the success in the world.”

Now, forget the perfect game for just a moment. Only two other players in NCAA DI softball history had recorded 21 strikeouts in a seven-inning game before Trautwein. Alabama’s Alexis Osorio was the most recent to do so in 2018, but she opened that game allowing a leadoff walk followed by a two-run home run. California’s Michele Granger, the NCAA’s leader in career no-hitters, was the first and completed the feat in one of her 25 no-hitters.

Players with 21 strikeouts in a seven-inning game.

Think about what kind of work goes in to striking out one batter. How about striking out the side? Trautwein had to throw a minimum of 63 strikes without inducing any contact. And of her 21 strikeouts, only four were of the looking variety. She got 17 Golden Lions to go down swinging, including the first 10 batters faced as well as six of the final nine.

The strikeout portion of Trautwein’s afternoon is only one half of the story, as crazy as it sounds. Being one of three players tied to a record is remarkable. But being one out of one is an entirely different kind of performance.

There were 28 perfect games thrown during college’s softball last full season in 2019. That number might be a bit anomalous considering there were just four in 2018 and two in 2017 according to the NCAA record book. Nonetheless, perfection is an accomplishment in any sport.

And on Sunday, Trautwein may have found the next degree of it.

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