WESTFIELD, NJ — In his debut game pitching for Pingry School’s varsity baseball team last week, 16-year-old Jake Francis of Westfield accomplished the notable feat of throwing a perfect game.

Held April 23 at Pingry’s home field, the game lasted five innings and ended in a mercy rule. The sophomore totaled 12 strikeouts while on the mound, and the Pingry School won 15-0 against Belvidere High School.

“It was just a lot of fun to be out there with all the work I’ve been putting in the last year or two,” Francis said.

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Francis said he focused on “getting ahead early in counts with fastballs and throwing as many strikes as [he could],” strategizing his pitching style according to the opposing team’s line-up. He also pushed his nerves aside and centered his attention on performing effectively.

“Throughout the last few innings, I got pretty nervous, but I just tried to stay focused and stay with my plan that I had throughout the whole game,” Francis said.

In early elementary school, Francis started his baseball career with Westfield’s recreational youth league. He credits these formative years for both developing his skill set and furthering his inspiration to continue playing the sport.

While the sophomore has been playing baseball for nearly a decade, the pandemic abruptly shut down Francis’ first varsity season and hindered any opportunities to pitch. Still, Francis maintained his skills with pre-season training at the Pingry School and by playing on a club team at Zoned Sports Academy.

Coming off the perfect game, Francis aims to continue improving his performance and working with his teammates to secure as many wins as possible.

“You’ll never be perfect. Nobody’s ever going to be perfect in this sport,” Francis said. “You can always continue to get stronger and try to be the best player that you can be.”

Shreya Jyotishi is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

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