SSU softball: Lipperd strikes out record 26

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma State’s Samantha Lipperd shattered the NCAA Division II strikeout record at the Tournament of Champions Friday in Turlock, fanning 26 in an 11-inning 5-2 victory over Hawaii Pacific.

The record-breaking effort came a few hours after Lipperd struck out 17 in the Seawolves’ tournament-opening 5-1 victory over Notre Dame de Namur. That game went eight innings.

So, on the day, the junior recorded 43 Ks.
Saturday was also a tour de force for Lipperd. In the evening, she tossed a no-hitter as her team defeated Hawaii Hilo, 4-0. She struck out 13 while picking up the fifth no-hitter of her career. She lost the perfect game on an infield error in the seventh inning.

In the morning, less than 12 hours after going the distance against Hawaii Pacific, Lipperd was at it again. She fanned 16, but Sonoma State lost to Northwest Nazarene, 3-2. At one point, Lipperd struck out nine straight batters.

She was also slated to pitch the late game Saturday against Grand Canyon. That was scheduled to start at 10:15. The night games were delayed for more than four hours by rain.
Friday against Hawaii Pacific, she fanned 26 of the 41 batters she faced. For the day, her pitch total was 298.

In her first four games in the tournament hosted by Cal State-Stanislaus, Lipperd struck out 72 batters in 33 innings.
Today in the championship bracket, Sonoma State will play at least one game and possibly two.

“Samantha will pitch for us Sunday,” coach Jennifer Bridges said. “She wants the ball.”
Lipperd said she thrives on all the work.

“I’m feeling real confident and strong,” she said. “My rise ball is working. It’s been exciting.”

Lipperd had solid numbers coming into the tournament, but certainly not record-setting. She’d struck out 162 batters in 136 innings while compiling a 15-6 record.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” Lipperd said. “It’s just that I’ve been able to throw strikes consistently and my rise ball is the best it’s ever been.

“I try to throw it where it’s knee level at the start and ends up below the batter’s letters. In the late innings, I’ve been able to hit my spots. The weekend has been crazy exciting.”

Bridges does have another pitcher on the staff in Ciara Becerril.

“Samantha’s form and fundamentals allow her to pitch a lot of innings without putting stress on her arm and body,” Bridges said. “She conditions hard. We talk a lot and I’m confident she’ll let me know if she’s not 100 percent.
“It’s nice to know that if the offense can score a few runs, Lipperd will do the rest.”

Going into the late game against Grand Canyon, the Seawolves’ record was 23-14.