When Jillian Compton and Andrea Reynolds made their debuts last season, it looked as if the two might be in for plenty of classic pitching duels in coming years.
That’s exactly what was in store Friday afternoon.
Reynolds, a sophomore for the San Luis Obispo High softball team, tossed a complete-game shutout of rival Arroyo Grande, edging the visiting Eagles and their junior star, Compton, for a 1-0 PAC 7 win.
Reynolds finished with seven strikeouts and gave up two hits.
Compton struck out 11 batters and yielded three hits.
Friday’s game was somewhat reminiscent of a 1-0 Eagles win over the Tigers a year ago, when Compton struck out a school-record 26 batters in 12 innings to get past Reynolds, who fanned 15 in the same game.
“We always seem to play Arroyo Grande in some really tight ball games over the years,” San Luis Obispo coach Mike Lee said. “And we know that Ms. Compton wearing the Eagle uniform is always going to be tough when she’s in the circle, and it was quite a duel between her and Andrea today.”
After last year’s showdown, Compton went on to be named to the Cal-Hi Sports all-state second team for underclassmen, and Reynolds helped lead the San Jose Sting travel club to a national title at the U14 level.
On Friday, Reynolds significantly helped herself on two occasions. In the bottom of the fourth inning, she legged out a left-field double to break up a no-hitter Compton was working on.
San Luis Obispo (5-2, 1-2) couldn’t capitalize, though, and waited until the sixth to score the only run, when Reynolds hit a sacrifice fly to center, driving in Erica Chandler. Chandler had gotten on with a one-out single before stealing second base.
“I could feel the momentum on our side just picking up as the game went along,” Reynolds said.
In the final at-bat of the game, Compton — who’s also a solid hitter, coming into the day batting .270 — blooped a ball high over Reynolds’ head.“My heart was racing,” Reynolds said of the sequence.
Looking into the sun, Reynolds was able to make the tough grab to secure the decisive out.
“That was a tough catch that Andrea had to make,” Lee said. “If she doesn’t make the catch, nobody makes the catch. It just happened to be in no-man’s-land, right behind the circle and too far for our second baseman and shortstop to get to it.
“She’s not Willie Mays,” Lee quipped, “but she made the over-the-shoulder catch with the bobble to put it away. She held her composure.”
Kayla Fillipin had the other base hit for the Tigers, and Ashley Collins and Jordan Robinson provided the offense for the Eagles (7-5, 1-3) with a pair of singles.
“This is a very important victory for us,” Lee said, alluding to avoiding an 0-3 league start. “This is what I expect from the team. They’re very capable of competing in our PAC 7 conference.”
The early success by pitchers like Compton and Reynolds comes after a national mandate this past year moved the circle from 40 feet back to 43, a distance already used at the travel-ball level — hence numerous pitchers’ already-established familiarity with it.
“This is probably the best year I’ve seen for pitching across the board in the league,” Lee said. “I think every team has an outstanding pitcher, and we have one in Andrea.”
San Luis Obispo will visit Arroyo Grande on May 3, with another Compton-versus-Reynolds matchup likely. Does Reynolds expect another pitching duel?
“Yeah, definitely,” she said with a smile. “It will be.”