Washington High School pitcher Michele McMahon will tell you that the rain-shortened Academic Athletic Association softball season has impacted her assault on the record books.
And it’s true.
Ten less games against city opponents will do that to your stat sheet. But to McMahon, who notched her 500th career strikeout last week against Burton — a AAA record by a long stretch — there is a more salient effect on her final season that hasn’t unraveled in ideal form.
The outgoing senior — who didn’t allow a hit and struck out 11 in the Eagles’ 10-0 win over Lincoln in five innings at Rossi Field on Tuesday — is a student at the School of The Arts, where her she can feed her fondness for the French horn and musical drama while playing softball at the school in her district. But the situation has its drawbacks.
"I’m only allowed to leave school early for games," said McMahon, who gets out of classes at the time practice is wrapping up most days. "So when I don’t have a game, I can’t go to practice."
Perhaps that explains why McMahon doesn’t just mow down hitters, but she also leads her team’s fanatical cheers from the bench with the zeal of a practiced cheerleader. There’s a sense that she treasures every moment on the diamond with a team that celebrated its senior day Tuesday with cake, photos and signs for graduating seniors.
"I’ll remember the people, the closeness," McMahon said of her career, which she hopes to cap by leading the Eagles to their fifth straight AAA and Transbay championships. "It’s like a family."
Opposing teams will be happy to see her graduate, though. Lincoln coach Kevin Grayson, in his eighth season, hasn’t seen a pitcher with her consistency.
"Not forall four years," Grayson said. "The way she dominates. I’ve seen it for one or two years, but not four."
McMahon has improved steadily, too. Summers spent playing for the San Francisco Angels and challenging non-league games — which were also wiped out because of rain — pushed her to work harder, whether it was solo workouts after school or sessions with her personal pitching coach.
"She’s gotten better and better," said Eagles coach Carrie Wert, who in her 23rd season has led the Eagles to a 13-1 record. "She has more control with more variety."
Wert thinks McMahon, who has given up only 12 runs (seven earned) this season, will make a smooth transition to the college level — where she will most likely play at Dominican in San Rafael — because of her work ethic.
But she also brings an intensity and focus to the mound that helped in last week’s 5-0 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral, a team that has endured the rigors of the West Catholic Athletic League. McMahon allowed only two hits and struck out 13 as she silenced what was a vibrant verbal confrontation between the two teams before the game.
And as Eagles head into the playoffs, there is even more reason for the opposition to worry: McMahon is still a little upset about having 10 games canceled and she might just want to improve on that season stat that can still be cut — a 0.08 ERA.
O’CONNELL 15, WALLENBERG 0
Bonnie Lam pitched a three-inning two-hitter and Mari Cruz Gonzalez hit a grand slam as O’Connell rolled in the AAA game. The Boilermakers (4-3) need to win one of their final three games to clinch the school’s first AAA playoff berth.