ONEONTA – Brieanna Baker knows what it’s like to be the young kid, the one with obvious talent, but a player who had to wait her turn on veteran squads.
Now, she’s the player everyone is looking toward.
Baker, an Oneonta High junior, didn’t disappoint in the Yellowjackets’ softball opener on an overcast but comfortable Tuesday afternoon. She used her impressive fastball to throw six innings of no-hit ball and combined with Michelle Rossi on a no-hitter in OHS’ 14-2 Southern Tier Athletic Conference victory over Johnson City.
With the exception of Baker, every player in the Yellowjackets’ lineup was making her first varsity start.
It was only a couple of years ago when Baker was the wide-eyed freshman, trying to find her way on talent-laden soccer and softball squads.
“We’re so young,” said Baker, who struck out 15 and walked four. “You can’t get mad at them if they mess up, because it’s their first year. You just have to work through it. They’ll get better as the season goes on.”
Oneonta graduated 11 seniors off of last year’s 17-3 squad that handed state champion Windsor its lone loss to a Class B school.
Baker, a right-hander, earned First Team all-state honors in the circle last season. She struck out 257 batters in 138 innings with an earned run average of 1.37. Baker also batted .396.
She appeared to be throwing even harder than a year ago in Tuesday’s opener. Three Johnson City hitters put balls in play against Baker, a come-backer by Emily Vesely in the fourth inning, and a groundout to third by Alyssa Boulter and a flyout to center by Alex Hein in the fifth inning.
Other than that, Baker overwhelmed the Wildcats’ lineup. A majority of JC’s hitters had trouble catching up to her fastball. When she spotted her fastball on the outside corner, Baker was nearly untouchable.