Thursday against the Lady Scots, Locklear left no room for error.
The Lady Rams ace tossed a perfect game to steer Swett to a 6-0 shutout win against Scotland in the Southeastern Conference softball tournament championship game at Purnell Swett High School.
“It feels really good,” the junior Locklear said. She finished with eight strikeouts. “But, I know it wouldn’t have been a perfect game without my defense behind me doing the plays that they needed to make, and my catcher (Alex Miles) behind me catching like she needed to.”
For Swett head coach James Graves, whose coached for over 22 years, it was the first perfect game he’s been apart of while at the helm.
“I’ve had kids throw no-hitters before but never a perfect game. This is a first,” he said.
Graves could feel the anticipation of Locklear’s potential perfect game mount as the Scotland outs continued to climb.
“I knew there were a number of folks that knew about it (as it was happening) and I’m sure she (Locklear) did too going into the last inning,” he said. “Everything just came together today — it was great to be apart of.”
Heading into the top of the seventh, with a chance to notch her first-ever perfect outing, Locklear’s focus was as sharp as her fastball.
“Going into the last inning, I was like, OK, let’s get this. Three up, three down. Perfect game. Game over. Beat Scotland,” Locklear said.
Just as she drew it up.
Facing the top of the Scots’ order, Locklear pitched Shae Barnes into a low line-drive that Mo Dial snagged at third and jammed Sarah Cross for a pop-up to Colleen Chavis at short. She put an emphatic stamp on her perfect game, fanning Destiny Morrison, who went down swinging, for the final out.
“My drop ball was really working good today, I think that’s what really kept them off-balance,” Locklear said.
Locklear and Swett (18-5) held on to a 2-0 edge through four innings before burying Scotland in the fifth. There, the Lady Rams racked up four of their 12 hits, highlighted by back-to-back doubles from Chavis and Dial. Chavis’ double plated Miles and Locklear, who initiated Swett’s flurry with a triple. Kayla Lewis, Miles and Dial each finished with a team-high two hits. Lewis had a triple.
“We’ve been swinging the bat pretty good and we got some key base hits when we needed to get a few runs,” Swett head coach James Graves said.
Locklear and the defense, which finished without an error, did the rest.
“The ball was moving very well for Alexis — probably the best it has all year,” Graves said. “And not just one pitch, several different pitches. She had them off-balanced and was able to throw a lot of strikes.
“So we’re not only proud of her, but were proud of the whole team. It was a great effort.”
Reach Sports editor Kaleb Roedel at 910-272-6111 or firstname.lastname@example.org