Your freshman year at college is supposed to be a learning experience. You’re likely to spend a lot of time on the bench while older, more experienced players get most of the game time.
Of course, there are exceptions – and Gabbie Plain is one of them.
In her first year with the Washington Huskies, Plain has been a sensation. The highlight so far has been the perfect game she pitched against Utah, a performance that drew high praise from everyone who saw it.
It was the first perfect game by a freshman in Husky softball history as Washington defeated Utah 12-0 in a five-inning game that included a long rain delay.
Plain, a 183cm right-hander from Sydney, retired all 15 batters she faced, with only two balls reaching the outfield.
Plain twice came out after long waits on the bench, first after a seven-run second inning by the Huskies and then after a rain delay and four runs by the Huskies in the fourth.
For Plain, the realisation of what she had achieved didn’t hit home until after the game. “It felt amazing after the fact,” she says.
“I didn’t really notice during the game, I was more just concentrating on getting through each individual inning, especially since you could see the rain rolling in.
“I was just trying to get my team through to a point where we could get the game done before it was called off.”
With 1412 fans on their feet, Plain made a dramatic play to seal the perfect game. She knocked down a line drive back at her with two outs in the fifth inning, then picked up the ball behind her and threw to first base just in time.
Plain may not have been overly aware of the perfect game, but all of those around her certainly were. “My teammates were ecstatic,” she said. “They all ran and engulfed me in the circle. My coaches congratulated me and said that it was a job well done. It was just an incredible scene.”
Leading the charge was catcher Emma Helm. Headed back out for the fifth inning, Helm had a quick word with her battery mate.
“I said just go out there and attack, and then I also said some things I can’t repeat,” Helm told local media. “But those hitters had nothing on her today. That was the best game, in terms of command, that she’s thrown to me.”
Once the hype of the perfect game died down, Plain was able to get on with life as a college student-athlete. To say she is enjoying it would be an understatement.
“I am absolutely loving the college experience so far,” she says. “I’m kept very busy with workouts, school as well as travelling, but it has just been such an amazing time and I would definitely recommend to younger athletes heading over to the States to learn and play.
“The level of competition is always a challenge, and I have seen myself become physically fitter and stronger while being over here.
“The toughest thing is definitely being away from family and friends, but I am in constant contact with all of them so I don’t ever really feel that homesick any more.”
Washington finished the regular season with a three-game sweep of Oregon State, giving the Huskies an impressive 44-8 win-loss record and a ticket to the NCAA regionals starting on May 18.
After earning wins in her final three games, Plain ended her freshman college season with 16 wins and four losses, with a 1.11 earned run average. She struck out 145 batters in 120 innings.
Plain has been a terrific pitcher both for the Junior Spirit and for New South Wales at Under-19 National Championships.
She is not looking too far ahead, but clearly she is a potential Aussie Spirit player in the not-too-distant future. She has already had a taste of that, playing in the Japan Cup last year, and is hoping for many more games for the Spirit.
“My goals for the next few years include continuing to grow and become the best version of myself,” she says. “To play at the highest level with my greatest effort.
“My goal for during and after is to also make it into the Australian Open Women’s team in the next few years, as well as hopefully make it to the Olympics.”