April 24, 2003
By Bruce Martinez
Staff Writer, The Santa Clara
A perfect game is by definition perfect. Pitcher Jaime Forman-Lau, a junior transfer from Stanford University, obtained the nearly unobtainable when she pitched the first perfect game in the history of Santa Clara softball. The 6-0 victory over the University of San Diego at Marsalli Park included 14 strikeouts, more tension than a reunion of Guns N' Roses and even a dramatic finish.
The win moved the Broncos to 24-19 with a 6-2 record in conference. San Diego fell to a Detroit Tiger-esque 6-34 on the season. The victory was just another testament to what Forman-Lau has meant to the Broncos during her first year with squad.
"Jaime has been invaluable to this program," said senior catcher Roni Rivera, who was behind the plate for all seven innings of the perfect game. "Her productivity speaks for itself. Fifteen wins, 220+ strikeouts, five-time conference pitcher of the week, 1.41 ERA. I am daily amazed at her talent. She is so excited to be playing softball and the team feels it. She works incredibly hard and expects the best from herself and this has caused the team to rise up."
Capitalizing on the addition of Forman-Lau, the Broncos have truly risen to new heights this season. They are on pace to shatter the program's previous best record - the 1986 season that included 26 wins. In fact, they have won more than 20 games for just the fourth time in the program's history. For a program with a combined record of 251-719 until 2000 - and that won only 11 games in that season - the 2003 season has been remarkable.
"A lot of things have come together for us this season," said Forman-Lau. "Talent and commitment wise we have come a long ways. We have been able to work on personal and team goals and have had great team chemistry."
As all perfect games develop, there is a certain amount of tension. Each inning and each pitch that makes up each part of an inning takes on greater and greater significance. During Forman-Lau's perfect game the greatest moment of tension came with one out in the seventh and final inning. She pitched three straight balls to the San Diego batter before answering with three inside curve balls to end the threat.
Forman-Lau's arrival on the Santa Clara campus was about as unexpected as her perfect game. She started at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., before attending Stanford for three years. While there she was quite successful, posting a 4-1 record and a 2.54 ERA. She added a team-leading five saves and held opposing batters to a .158 average during her sophomore season.
She then took a year off from softball after having some disagreements with people at Stanford. She finished her degree in comparative studies in race and ethnicity with a minor in Spanish in just three years. Forman-Lau, who is a graduate student now pursuing a master's degree in higher education administration, cites a further bit of fortunate timing for Bronco softball.
"It was kind of luck for me to play for the Broncos," said Forman-Lau. "Someone I worked with was on the Santa Clara team and she mentioned to Coach Crouch that I was still working out and was in shape. Marcy gave me a call and I ended up joining the team."
She has had no problems fitting in with her teammates. While Forman-Lau may appear serious, she has shown a softer side. Her teammates insist that, when it comes right down to it, she is just like the rest of them.
"She also is a fun kid to be around," said Rivera. "She comes off as super serious, but she is just as goofy as the rest of us. Jaime has jelled with our team and we are so grateful she transferred here."
The fortune of Forman-Lau's arrival precluded all the dominance she has brought this season. She has nine shutouts on the season with 212 strikeouts and a 1.41 ERA. After Tuesday's loss to her former teammates at Stanford, Forman-Lau sits with an overall record of 15-10. Teammate Rivera attributes this to her hard work.
"It would be easy for Jaime to be cocky," said Rivera. "But, she is extremely humble. Instead of dwelling on her personal success, she continues to look for ways to get better and grow."
This is not to say that Forman-Lau isn't without a certain confidence, a swagger all her own.
"I'm sort of a perfectionist, some people were really focused on whether it would happen," she said. "For me, I expected it to happen. I expected myself to finish it all the way out."