It would be understandable if batters facing Sarah Cornell had trouble sleeping the night before the game. That 65-mph fastball can be something of a nightmare. But this time, it was the Clarke righthander who spent the night tossing and turning.
“I knew this day was coming,” she said, “and I really couldn’t sleep.”
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It’s difficult to sleep when a dream is about to come true. Cornell became the all-time strikeout leader in Long Island high school softball history Thursday, reaching a goal she set when she first made varsity in 2011.
“I’ve been working toward this since seventh grade,” said Cornell, a senior bound for Hofstra. “It’s been a lot of work and it feels good to be at the top with all the other pitchers that were great on Long Island.”
Cornell entered the Conference ABC-I game — which Clarke (6-1) lost, 4-1, to Carey (8-1) — needing eight strikeouts to break the record of 1,171 set in 2011 by Lindsay Taylor of Kings Park. Cornell struck out the side in the third inning, freezing the last batter looking on a fastball down the middle for the record-setter.
“I think strikeouts are really important to her because it’s something she owns,” Clarke coach Rachel Barry said of Cornell, who struck out 15. “It’s something that’s hers and it’s something that she can put her name on. But I don’t think that she spends a whole lot of time thinking about it because she real ly is about the win and she’s about the team.”
Cornell was Newsday’s softball player of the year last season after going 23-3 with 357 strikeouts and leading the Rams to their first county and Long Island championships. With an overpowering fastball and the ability to mix pitches, she has turned Clarke into a perennial contender while competing in the top ability-based conference in Nassau Class A.
“She’s done so much for the game at our level,” Carey coach Anthony Turco said.
She hopes to do even more.
“I don’t feel satisfied with just breaking it,” Cornell said. “I want to continue to break even more records and win a state championship.”
And get a good night’s sleep.