Emma Holden’s golden right arm is better than ever.
Holden, a former Notre Dame High standout, broke two pitching records at California Baptist University, an NAIA powerhouse, as the Lancers secured their eighth straight Golden State Athletic Conference championship on Tuesday.
The junior recorded 10 strikeouts in a 5-0 win over Vanguard to become Cal Baptist’s career strikeout leader with 607. Holden also surpassed the program’s single-season strikeout record of 247 on Tuesday – she now has 251 strikeouts in 152 1/3 innings.
“It’s definitely one of my greatest personal achievements, but it doesn’t come close to my national championship freshman year,” Holden said. “I’m very thankful for the talent God has given me, but what I want more than records is (another) national championship.”
The affable right-hander may well get her wish. Cal Baptist, ranked No. 1 all season, is 53-3 and is one of the favorites to win the NAIA title in Mobile, Ala. in late May.
Holden improved to 27-1 with her two-hitter on Tuesday, and she sports a 0.74 ERA. And just as during her prep days, when she led Notre Dame to its first Central Coast Section title in 30 years in 2007 and then a share of its inaugural West Catholic Athletic League championship a year later, the strikeouts have been omnipresent.
Asked to describe the feeling of repeatedly mowing down Cal Baptist opponents, Holden said, “I try not to smile after (the strikeouts), but sometimes I can’t help it.”
After Holden, a 2010 NAIA All-American, became Cal Baptist’s strikeout queen, Lancers head coach Mike Smith tipped his cap to his ace.
“Emma has worked so hard and this is really a testament to how great a pitcher she is,” said Smith. “Every time she goes out there we know we have a chance to win. The fact that she broke this record in just three years is amazing.”
In her first two years, Holden set two other Cal Baptist single-season records: hits allowed per seven innings (3.14) and strikeouts per seven innings (11.82). She is also the program’s career leader in opponent batting average and in strikeouts per seven innings.
After enjoying a long weekend at home in San Carlos, Holden will return to Riverside on Sunday as Cal Baptist makes its final preparations for the playoffs. The Lancers finish the regular season next week with a doubleheader against Concordia, and then kick off the postseason with the GSAC tournament.
Holden, a liberal studies major who intends to become a kindergarten teacher, is determined to ensure Cal Baptist is the last team standing next month.
“I can be happy for now,” she said, “but I’m not satisfied.”