Even more perfect than perfect for Chiaradio

Stonington High School softball coach Ann-Marie Houle was trying to make sure she conveyed to her pitcher, Andrea Chiaradio, how impressively Chiaradio had just pitched Saturday morning.

Chiaradio, a junior, pitched a perfect game against Norwich Free Academy, striking out all 21 batters she faced in a 3-0 victory at Stonington.

"It was unbelievable to watch," Houle said. "I don't think she understands the magnitude. We're so sarcastic as a coaching staff, I had to say, 'Andrea, for real, this is a big deal. I've never been more proud.' I've never seen her pitch so confidently."

Chiaradio, Stonington's center fielder a year ago, is in her first season as a starting pitcher for the Bears, sharing time with Theresa Kane. Chiaradio was one of the pitchers last summer who helped lift Pawcatuck into the Senior League World Series in Delaware.

Heading into Saturday's game, Chiaradio said she was nervous at NFA's hit total in its previous game. The Wildcats beat Montville 26-7 on Thursday, hammering out 27 hits.

But Chiaradio was unflappable.

"We threw a lot of drop curves and rise balls," Chiaradio said, crediting catcher Julie Royer for calling the game. "I was trying not to think about (a perfect game). I was just focused on getting the outs.

"The last hitter (Emily Devito) fouled off a few balls, so I was nervous, but I threw her an outside fastball."

Ally Curioso was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Bears (6-1). Chiaradio is 3-1, losing earlier in the week against East Lyme.

Former Masuk of Monroe star Rachele Fico, who set the national record for perfect games with 26, is another Connecticut high school pitcher who struck out all 21 batters in a game, earning a spot on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 for her feat. Fico is now a junior at Louisiana State University.

"(Fitch coach) Kate Peruzzotti's dad (Bob) was there scouting NFA and he said to me, 'I've never seen that happen before,'" Houle said. "All the parents stood up and gave her a standing ovation at the end.

"She seemed like she just had confidence. I don't know what the heck was going on in her mind. I'm superstitious, so people were sitting on the same buckets for seven innings. But she played center field all last year and she never complained. When the coach gives you that moment and you take it ... good for her."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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