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Danielle East sets strikeout record for Bulldogs

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Danielle East sets strikeout record for Bulldogs. (KFSN)

With the accolades surrounding Fresno State softball, hearing this from head coach Linda Garza should grab the attention. "It is by far the best pitching performance I've ever been a part of as a player and a coach," she said.

Earlier this year, freshman Danielle East pitched a no-hitter where she struck out all 15 batters she faced. "There were for sure times I thought 'Oooh, I'm throwing a no-hitter' and then I was like 'No can't think about it! Can't think about it, don't jinx it!'," East said.

The freshman has been a staple of Bulldog success this year, but before coming to State, East almost headed further West. Growing up in Van Nuys she was set to go to UC Santa Barbara. "Coach Garza had actually texted me the day I was taking the SAT and said 'Hey we're interested!'" East recalled. "I was like OK. I had actually never even heard of the school to be completely honest."

An official visit to the stadium impressed and her decision to come has given her a new home. But the journey wasn't easy. "I got hit hard in preseason," she said. "Definitely harder than I'd been hit in my years of playing softball and that was definitely kind of an eye-opener."

Assistant coach Jodie Cox pulled her aside and told her she couldn't get away with trying to try to overpower batters. "She was like that's going to blow your ego and she's right. It definitely blew my ego."

Since then the two have found something that's working.

But that old title from the start of the year still stands.

Coach Garza says she's not a "strikeout pitcher" even though at the time she talked with ABC30, East was a strikeout away from the freshman record in the Mountain West. "I know she is. You guys love to talk about those things. We like to let her focus on hitting her spots," Garza said.

76 strikeouts have already given her the freshman record in the Mountain West. It was a record that was set back in 2001. The overall conference record of 128 is still in her sights. While she and her team may not see her as a strikeout pitcher, as she nears the record, they might have to adjust her title to Freshman Phenom.

"I mean the strikeouts have just kind of happened," East said. "I'm sure it's the movement that we were working on," she added while laughing.

The Bulldogs currently hold a two-game lead for first place in the Mountain West standings. The team travels to face Boise State for a three-game set Friday, April 27th.
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