Alexis Osorio has faced 35 batters this season. Not one has so much as reached first base.
The University of Alabama softball team’s junior right-hander has struck out 25 of those batters in a perfect 11 2/3 innings, including a perfect game last weekend when she struck out 19 of 21 batters. The other two were retired on pop-ups that didn’t escape the infield.
Coach Patrick Murphy expects her to see action Wednesday night when the Crimson Tide hosts South Alabama at Rhoads Stadium in Alabama’s home opener.
It marks quite a difference from a year ago, when Osorio sat out opening weekend following surgery on her right wrist. She went 19-7 with a 2.39 earned-run average as a sophomore after earning All-American honors as a freshman with a 22-9 mark and 1.75 ERA.
That surgery affected her grip and ability to manipulate the ball. Her riseball rose on a plane, but didn’t tail upward at the end like it did the year before.
“I really feel like my main goal this year is to just worry about the spin, going back to freshman year and focusing on spinning the ball rather than trying to blow it by people,” she said.
Murphy sees a different pitcher from last season.
“It was awesome to watch,” he said of the perfect game. “You can’t get any better. I guess she could have struck out all 21.
“There was one ball that was hit hard against her in her 11 innings. That means that every pitch was working to me. … She has swings and misses, there was no fouling off — it was complete miss.”
The ball moved so much that the Coastal Carolina dugout erupted in cheers last weekend when a batter even made contact during Osorio’s perfect game.
“I thought it was actually really funny,” the pitcher said.
Last season wasn’t as fun, and certainly wasn’t funny.
“It was a challenge for me last year, being hurt,” she said. “Coming back this year much healthier, it just makes it so much easier when I’m healthy, the rest of my team behind me is healthy and I just think that’s a really big role that plays (out) this season.
“It was a rough year last year.”
Murphy believes Osorio’s improvement goes beyond her healed wrist.
“I know she worked really hard this fall to get in better shape,” he said. “She got really strong — lower body, upper body — and I think it added a little to her miles per hour, too. I think she’s a little bit faster, and when her riseball moves like it does and it has a little more zip, it’s tough to lay off because it looks good coming in and at the last second it goes up over the bat.”
Osorio’s 2017 start has been perfect so far. But she wants improvement.
“I hope to continue to grow with the season going on,” she said, “and that’s just barely starting.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.
South Alabama at No. 4 Alabama
Where: Rhoads Stadium
When: 5 p.m.
Records: Alabama 5-0, South Alabama 5-0
Radio: 93.3 FM