When Jill Compton was still in elementary school, she used to come to the Arroyo Grande High softball diamond and watch in awe of her favorite player.
Paso Robles High’s Michelle Moses was tearing through the PAC 7 on her way to Fresno State, and whether Moses knew it or not, the Bearcats star was a role model.
“She was my idol,” Compton said. “When she used to play A.G., I used to come watch her. And I was like, ‘I want to be like her, just like her.’
Because she used to hit home run after home run after home run, and she threw really hard. She was the best pitcher in the league by far.”
Now a junior with the Eagles — and the league’s dominant force in her own right — Compton has followed Moses’ prep career step for step, even committing to play for the Bulldogs in college.
But Compton still has a chance to do something the former Bearcat never did, lead her team on a deep CIF-Southern Section playoff run.
Compton kicked this postseason off with her first perfect game of the year and second of her career Thursday, striking out 14 in a 3-0 victory over visiting South Torrance (20-10) in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs.
She struck out eight of the first nine Spartans batters and went 2 for 4 at the plate with a run scored to help the PAC 7 champion Eagles (17-9) advance to a second-round matchup Tuesday against either San Gabriel Valley League champion Downey Warren or Harvard Westlake. Moses, a junior at Fresno State who graduated from Paso Robles in 2008, never advanced past the second round.
“I think we can go far,” Compton said. “If we keep our intensity up, we can go as far as we want to. I feel like if we keep hitting, then we’ll totally be fine.”
While South Torrance failed to land a runner on base, Arroyo Grande racked up seven singles.
Compton started it off with a leadoff single in the third inning, and after Charlette Yracheta sacrificed her to second, Kasie Craig drove in Compton for the go-ahead run with a single to right center.
Then in the fifth, Yracheta drove in Ramie Castilleja and Alexa Wetmore with a bases-loaded single for the final two runs.
The recipe was similar to the seven-game winning streak the Eagles used to finish off the regular season.
“We got the key hits,” Arroyo Grande coach Kristin Ciecek said. “That’s what we’ve been doing down the stretch. It’s been awesome. Our hitters have been really coming through. We’ve been real effective at playing small ball, getting the runners around and getting the key hits when we need to.”
Still, the biggest factor was Compton’s effort to stymie a South Torrance team that scored 13 runs in a shutout wild-card victory over Eastside of Lancaster on Wednesday.
“I guess we left it all on the field at our place,” Spartans coach Kevin Van Waardenburg said. “We had a great run, a great season, a 20-win season, and we just ran into a wall today. They had a great game, and I think they’ll do well in the playoffs.”
South Torrance hitters put the ball in play only seven times the entire game, and despite vocal urges from coaches and teammates in the dugout, Spartans hitters could not lay off Compton’s rise ball.
Compton struck out the side in the first, third and fifth innings. She teased South Torrance into swinging at her rise ball, a pitch that starts low but finishes at shoulder level, and it didn’t seem to matter if they knew what was coming.
“I think at one point, they had even caught my signs, and they knew what was coming,” Ciecek said, “and they still couldn’t lay off it. She’s got it down. It’s supposed to come in looking like a strike, and that’s what makes it so effective. It just rises out of the strike zone.”
The only inning Compton failed to record a strikeout was the seventh, when it looked like the perfect game might get spoiled.
After striking out in each of her first two at-bats, Spartans No. 3 hitter Shannan Hokama drove a ball high to deep right field.
South Torrance was thinking home run as the ball drifted back, but Wetmore made a leaping grab before reaching the fence to preserve Compton’s perfect feat.
“I was like ‘shoot,’ ” Compton said. “I thought that was over the fence, and then Alexa made a huge play on that. It was awesome. I love her.”