Victory No. 113 ‘Affirms’ IHA’s Thomas as state’s winningest pitcher

She won her first game as a freshman pitcher in early April of 2011, when Steph Thomas of Immaculate Heart Academy defeated Montclair in the IHA Tournament on the Eagles’ home field.

Three years and two months later, Thomas, (aka Affirmed) in her final home game, set a new state record for career victories, surpassing the mark set by Kristen Schindler of Caldwell nine years ago, as IHA downed Lyndhurst, 10-0, in five innings today.

 

grandparentsSteph Thomas of IHA celebrates her historic win with grandparents Diane and Ben Thomas. (Photos courtesy of Steph Thomas)

Thomas’ milestone win was her 113th, as she spun a one-hitter. She also extended her state record for career shutouts with her 69th goose egg. (Schindler had held the state shutout mark of 67, as well, before Thomas broke that record in a 5-0 victory against Paramus Catholic last week).

affirmedThe great Affirmed, after winning the last Triple Crown, to date, in 1978. A triple crown could be won this Saturday, on the same day as the state softball championship games in Toms River.

While the win was nice, especially after a 5-4 loss by IHA to Indian Hills last Saturday in the Bergen County final, Thomas was more reflective on playing her final home game.

“There are some emotions,” she said with a smile. “A lot of memories here, for sure. It’s been an amazing experience.”

ihaIHA head coach Anthony Larezza and assistant Diana Fasano flank Thomas after career win number 113. (#31Affirmed113)

On breaking the record and earning, unofficially a #31Affirmed113 hash tag, marking her uniform number, stud name and new state record, Thomas noted the season is reaching its apex.

 

“We lost in the county final, but with the state tournament, there isn’t much time to think about it,” Thomas said. “We want the chance to win a (Non-Public A) championship. It’s the final week of the season, and we’re excited.”

get-attachment.aspxSteph Thomas and her sisters, Ally (left) and Catherine, celebrate Steph as the state’s all-tine win leader.

IHA improved to 31-1 while Lyndhurst (22-8), which captured a state sectional championship last week, will play High Point tomorrow in a Group 2 semifinal.

iha 4Even the visiting team was proud of Thomas’ accomplishment. That’s Lyndhurst coach Emily Ringen with Thomas after the game. Ringen will lead her team into the Group 2 semifinal today opposite ‘Citation’ (Ally Frei) and High Point.

“This was a good game for us,” said IHA coach Anthony Larezza, who welcomed, among others, legends such as Willie Stargell and Charlie Lau to the ball park, as well as invoking Dan Devine and Rudy when there was actually a question of taking Thomas out after five innings, to rest her for tomorrow’s North Non-Public A final against Mount St. Dominic. (He also, after seeing my Chicago Bears jersey, asked if I was Doug Buffone or Jack Concannon, before settling on Mike Singletary)

rudy-sack-1000wRudy, in his final home game. Larezza felt like Dan Devine in Thomas’ last home game yesterday in deciding when to take her out of the game.

startBaseball greats Willie Stargell and Charlie Lau, whose names were invoked at IHA yesterday. Not easy to get on this list.

24174_1599x944

indexDoug Buffone in his Bears jersey and me, in mine at IHA yeserday.

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“I was going to take Steph out after the fifth, but then we scored five in the bottom of the inning to get the 10-run rule. Lyndhurst has some really good players. They wanted the game to get ready for High Point and it was good for us to play after the Indian Hills game last Saturday.”

For Thomas, the talk of the record is now in the past.

“I’m glad it’s out of the way,” she said. “I just want to focus on helping my team win a state championship.”

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By mike051893

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