UVU sophomore pitcher Brooke Carter has gone through quite a bit in the last couple of years.
She was looking forward to a big season in the circle during her senior year of high school at Spanish Fork in 2018 — only to have the season severely limited by a broken wrist.
“I didn’t get to play, so it was rough,” Carter said in an interview last week. “I found out I broke it in March, so I had surgery and had a cast. I would go to all the games and watch. At state they let me run the bases, but that was it. It was hard coming back because I was scared to trust it. Everything felt different and I didn’t know if I would be the same pitcher I was when I got hurt.”
Her next stop was Salt Lake Community College, where she shined as a pitcher. She went 10-1 with a 3.06 ERA while striking out 74 batters in 70.2 innings and limiting opponents to just a .189 batting average.
“I struggled a little bit in the fall but in the spring I started doing well,” Carter said. “I got my momentum, which was a good experience.”
But she decided to come closer to home and got a chance to join the Wolverines for the 2020 season. She said it was a pretty easy transition.
“I feel like I meshed really well with the team,” Carter said. “All the girls were super-chill and it was just really nice. When I first got here I was a little scared because it is Division I, which is a little different than competing for a junior college. But you learn as you go and it really helped me grow as an athlete. We really work well together as a team.”
She tallied a 5-3 record in the first month of the season and gave UVU a chance in almost every game.
“She came right in and had a lot of success from Day 1,” UVU head coach Stacy May-Johnson said. “She was a quality player from Utah. She gives us quality outings every day. If she’s pitching, we have a chance to win.”
It didn’t take Carter long to make Wolverine history.
The setting was at Northern Colorado on March 6 as Carter stepped in to pitch for UVU — and ended up with perfection.
“It was really cool for me,” Carter said. “I think it’s something that is really cool for every pitcher to do. Being able to see all the hard work pay off was really awesome. It was a surreal thing for me.”
She said it was in the fourth inning where it kind of sunk in what was happening.
“Every time I go out there I tell myself, ‘three up, three down, that’s all we need,’” Carter said. “I got out there and everything was rolling. I realized that this could be big. I tried not to think about it because like all athletes you know what is going on but don’t want to say it because you don’t want to jinx it. My team said they all knew what was going on but no one said anything for that reason.”
May-Johnson noticed the same thing on the bench.
“It’s one of those things where no one says anything,” May-Johnson said. “I sent a couple of pitchers to the bullpen to get warmed up. We kind of pretended it wasn’t happening.”
Both Carter and May-Johnson were quick to acknowledge that a perfect game requires a total team defensive effort.
“,” Carter said: “I was a little nervous. Who wouldn’t be? But I knew my team had my back, so it went really smooth.”
There were a couple of moments where one of the Northern Colorado players nearly broke Carter’s streak.
“Brooke threw great but there were two plays that stood out in that game,” May-Johnson said. “Siena (Sandoval) made a diving play down the line. There was another play that was probably the best play of the game. The ball was tagged straight down the left-field line — but our left fielder Linnah Rebolledo was standing right on that line and caught it. When she came in, I asked her why she was playing there. She said every lefty had hit a foul ball down that line, so she was just playing to try to go catch a foul ball. That was a double any other day. It’s never just the pitcher. Other pieces have to come into play as well.”
Finally it got down to the last out, which Carter said was a moment she won’t forget.
“When I got to the last batter, we got two strikes on her,” Carter said. “We called a pitch and I just took a deep breath. I was like, alright, let’s do it. I just went for it and it hit the outside corner. The feeling I had was indescribable. It was insane.”
Her Wolverine teammates immediately began the celebration of the first perfect game in UVU softball history.
“It was just this big mosh pit with my team,” Carter said. “It was so fun. It was something I’ll always remember.”
She said it was rewarding to have so many past teammates, especially from Spanish Fork, reach out to congratulate her on the accomplishment.
“I had teammates text me and post it on Facebook and say some really nice things,” Carter said. “It was crazy to see all the support behind me. It was just cool to see how many people wanted me to succeed.”
Although the season is currently delayed due to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, Carter knows she has already set the standard high for herself.
“At first it was nerve-wracking because you wonder if everyone is going to expect you to do the same thing,” Carter said. “But I just realized that every team is going to be different, so I’m just going to do the best I can against any team that I face.”
May-Johnson said she is looking forward to seeing Carter continue to improve.
“Brooke has been consistent,” May-Johnson said. “She beat a very good Long Beach State team early in the year. She’s been good and consistent. She has a variety of pitches. She’s got swing-and-miss ability with her change-up but she can locate her best pitches to multiple spots. She is still working to establish the entire strike zone. She’s a competitor. She just comes in and plays hard.”