DELTA - Seven games into her sophomore season as pitcher for the Delta High School softball team, Amy Mattin had already flirted with no-hitters four times, allowing just one hit each time.
But the 16-year-old right-hander obviously grew tired of flirting because, in her next four starts, she fired back-to-back perfect games against Bishop Grimes and Maria Regina high schools from New York, then followed with two more no-hitters against Swanton and Bryan.
During a 10-game stretch from April 14-24, she fired eight consecutive shutouts and did not allow a run for 57 innings. She had a 31-inning hitless string during that span.
“That was really exciting,” Mattin said of her stingy streak. “It just seemed unreal to have that happen. It showed how hard the whole team worked. I can't do it by myself. I know my teammates are behind me and have my back. That lets me relax and get into a groove.”
With a 9-1 Northwest Ohio Athletic League victory over Montpelier last night - 2 hits, 13 strikeouts, no walks - Mattin has pitched every inning of every game for the 18-0 Panthers.
“I practice so much in the winter that a game is just like a practice,” Mattin said of endurance forged by one-hour offseason sessions 5-6 times per week. “When I pitch a doubleheader, sometimes my pitches get a little better in the second game because I've had more time to warm up and throw 'em.”
As a freshman, Mattin pitched 1981/3 of her team's 206 innings, compliling a 23-5 record with 327 strikeouts, 47 walks, 65 hits allowed and an 0.49 earned-run average. Delta shared the NWOAL title with perennial league power Archbold and advanced to the Division III district tournament.
Under the tutelage of her father, Steve Mattin, Amy began hurling in organized fast-pitch play at age 9, and has improved steadily over seven years. Summer league play with area traveling teams has taken her to tournaments in Michigan, Colorado, Tennessee, Florida and New York along with numerous in-state events.
Most recently, Mattin has pitched for the SGS Magic summer travel team, filled by some of the best Toledo-area prep talent. Although not a summer teammate, Mattin is friends with Gibsonburg senior ace Jamie Wonderly, who has pitched the Golden Bears to back-to-back Division IV state championships.
Mattin acknowledges she's not attained Wonderly's level, but she has improved significantly in the last year.
Her ERA is lower (0.32), her rate of hits per seven innings is down (from 2.29 to 2.13), and she has upped her strikeout-to-walk ratio from 7-to-1 in 2002 to 14-to-1.
Mattin's fastball, which approaches 60 mph, is just part of a five-pitch arsenal. Her best is a curve-drop, and she also uses a screwball, a riseball and a changeup.
“I think I'm a combination of both [power and deception],” Mattin said. “My pitches move enough and they have some speed behind them to give them a little extra.”
According to third-year Delta coach Bert Russell, Mattin, a 3.6 student in the classroom, helps her cause by applying that intelligence to her pitching strategy.
“Having a pitcher like Amy is an unbelievable weapon,” Russell said. “You know, with her out there, you're going to be in every game you play. That's a great feeling and it's contagious with the kids behind her. I wouldn't trade Amy for anybody. She's a special kid. She's a great student and a great role model, on and off the field.”
Amy's older sister, Delta assistant coach Michelle Mattin, starred for the Panthers (1997 grad) as a two-time all-district catcher. Older brother Mike, now an emergency-room physician in Toledo, was a state wrestling champion at Delta, where he still helps out as an assistant.
“It would be nice to pitch in college,” Mattin said, “but I'm only a sophomore and right now I'm just thinking about having fun with my friends on the team.”
Mattin and the unranked Panthers will face a tough test next Thursday at Archbold against the fifth-ranked Blue Streaks and junior pitching ace Kendra Stahl.