Few pitchers have quelled opposing offenses quite like Raychel Trocki, who has notched eight no-hitters and three perfect games so far this season.
Every game night, Raychel Trocki prepares herself the same way.
Before the game, she goes through her warmups and hitting, before having a pre-game meeting with catcher Megan Rush to talk about pitch strategy. She knows that the best way to get the most out of her pitching is by knowing her opponent.
By the time she finally takes her place in that chalk-lined circle in the middle of the softball diamond, she already knows every weakness, and she exploits them to absolute perfection.
The funny thing is, however, she often doesn’t realize how perfect she’s been until after everything is over.
“We adjust to the batters if we’re making mistakes with them — big foul balls or anything — and then at the end of the game, your coach tells you, ‘Hey, you know you realize you didn’t give up a hit right?’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good,’” Trocki said. “It’s not something like, in the game and in the moment, that I know — I don’t really know until the end, because I’m focused on the game.”
Although Trocki has been too zoned in to notice what she had done during games, those who sit in the stands know her impressive numbers — eight no-hitters and three perfect games in 14 appearances (with a 14-2 record).
Perfect games and no-hitters are supposed to be rare, once-in-a-season (if that) moments, but for Trocki, they almost feel inevitable. Trocki paints the strike zone with an ease equivalent to the way Bob Ross used a brush and canvas to create art.
But just because she makes it look easy doesn’t mean it is, and it also didn’t come without work. In fact, her introduction to the game itself is quite a funny one, Trocki said.
“I started playing at the West Orange Girls Club in Ocoee, and when my mom took me to try out — I was a ballerina then, so I wasn’t exactly the type to get down and dirty on the field — I didn’t know I was trying out that day, so I didn’t have any equipment,” Trocki said. “I was in flip-flops and gym shorts, and I ran the bases in bare feet for that tryout.”
Combine that with her dad coaching her second recreation team, and Trocki unexpectedly fell in love with the sport. It was also during that time when she decided she wanted to pitch.
“I wanted the ball every single play, and the only way I could do that was to be a pitcher,” Trocki said. “So both parents and my coaches were like, ‘If you want to be a pitcher, you have to put in the work.’”
From there, Trocki played on a handful of travel-ball teams before finally making it to Dr. Phillips High. Although she lives in Ocoee, she chose DP for its academics — particularly its international studies program.
Going into her freshman year, Trocki had every intention of establishing herself on the junior-varsity team and working her way up from there. But things went much differently.
That year, the Panthers had graduated eight players — while only returning three — and Trocki was cast head first into the starting pitcher’s role on the varsity team.
“It was kind of a shock to me, because when you’re young, you’re like, ‘Oh high-school ball, you go as a freshmen, and you’re going to be on JV,’” Trocki said. “But I was thrown right into it the middle of it … and that was freshman year. You’re playing against 18-year-old seniors who are going to college.
"At the end of the game, your coach tells you, ‘Hey, you know you realize you didn’t give up a hit right?’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good.’ It’s not something like, in the game and in the moment, that I know — I don’t really know until the end, because I’m focused on the game.”
— Raychel Trocki
“I think that season was kind of where I made the decision that I wanted to play, and that I was willing to put in the work to be better,” she said. “It was definitely a defining season for a lot of us freshman — whether we wanted to continue playing or not.”
The growing pains of being a young player were there. Trocki went 12-12 with a 4.63 ERA to start her high-school career. But that season — and its accompanying lessons — have served her well. Since then, Trocki has picked up an overall record of 52-12 while seeing her ERA drop every single season — 1.92 her sophomore year, 1.81 her junior year and 0.62 so far this season.
And although she still has nine games to go this regular season — as well as the district tournament and states — the girl who once ran barefoot around the base paths as a kid will be going into the next chapter of her life in softball at Florida Tech in the fall.
“I’m super excited,” Trocki said. “When I was looking at colleges — again my academics came first, that’s one of the biggest reasons why I chose Florida Tech — is coach Val (Silvestrini) and coach Amanda (Haverman) out there are amazing and they push their girls to be the best they can be. I’m working hard to not only be on the team, but be a starting pitcher for them my freshman year.”