Former Blue Waves ace Julia Morrow on the mound for the Tampa Spartans. (Photo by Andy Meng courtesy of the University of Tampa)

Julia Morrow threw the only perfect game in Riverhead’s history as a senior in 2010.

Now a senior at the University of Tampa, she’s done it again.

After being named to the 50-player watch list for the NCFA Division II National Player of the Year award, her performance against Chadron State on Saturday in the Eckerd College Spring Invitational may have just put her atop the list.

Twenty one batters stepped in the box against Morrow and all 21 were retired, 15 by way of strikeout.

“Honestly, it was just the right day at the right time and the right batters not making contact,” Morrow said, laughing it off.

After leading the NCAA in earned run average (0.72) her junior year, she expected to come into this season firing on all cylinders. But throwing a perfect game is hard to predict or expect. She’d come close to a no-hitter last year.

“There was an error that was changed to a hit after the game,” Morrow said. “Otherwise I’ve never been close.”

When she finished the third inning, thoughts of potentially throwing a perfect game started creeping into her mind.

“After the third inning, I was like ‘well nobody has got a hit yet’ and I think I had struck everyone out at that point,” Morrow said. “And I told myself ‘we’re just doing good, it’s fine’ and it didn’t really hit me until the start of the seventh inning.”

Standing in the pitching circle, nerves were beginning to be a factor.

“I kept telling myself,” Morrow said, “‘OK, I just need to get three more outs and I have a perfect game.’ Once I realized, I got a little bit nervous and my third baseman and my first baseman started calming me down and said, ‘seriously, you need to just strike them out so we can go home’.”

Even with her teammates’ encouragement, the seventh inning didn’t go so smoothly.

“The first two batters I took to a full count,” Morrow said. “So I was having a little panic attack.”

But they both ended up popping out and the final batter was victimized by Morrow’s 15th strikeout.

“It was really, really awesome to end that game on a strikeout,” Morrow said.

The University of Tampa is currently ranked 17 in the nation. They were picked to finish second in the Sunshine State Conference.

“I love that we were put at number two because the target isn’t on our back,” Morrow said. “The other team has to deal with that pressure. Other teams don’t expect much of us because we lost two of our All-Americans. But we’ve come out this season hitting. I think we’ve scored about half the runs we scored last year in just this weekend alone.”

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Morrow went out on Sunday and earned the save in the first game and threw yet another no-hitter in the second game against the University of West Florida, improving her team’s record to a perfect 5-0.

The key to the success?

“Confidence,” Morrow said. “It’s really just mental. I’ve had the physical capabilities since high school it’s just the matter of the mental aspect of it.”

Morrow is now 3-0 on the season with a 0.00 ERA, striking out 39 batters in 20.1 innings of work.

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Michael Hejmej is a freelance writer, real estate agent and native of Riverhead.