It took three innings before Brandon Childers realized he was on track for something special.
The senior pitcher was dealing for Desert Vista against Corona del Sol on April 9, striking out batters and getting through frames with ease. When he looked at the scoreboard and realized he was on track for a no-hitter, that’s when he settled in.
“I looked out there and was like, ‘holy crap I have a no-hitter and didn’t even realize it,’” Childers said. “I just looked at my teammates and told them to not say anything. It was kind of funny.”
Childers didn’t let the thought of capturing his first career no-hitter get to him. He remained calm on the mound and continued to pitch at his own pace.
By the time the bottom of the fifth inning rolled around, Desert Vista had already jumped out to a 14-0 lead. According to the governing body of prep sports in Arizona, the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the game would end after the fifth inning if a team was winning by more than 10 runs.
Childers delivered the final three outs. The no-hitter was complete. He struck out nine batters and walked two more. Two pitches away from a perfect game.
“It’s hard to describe how it felt,” Childers said. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. It’s crazy, you don’t hear about no-hitters very often, especially in high school. It’s crazy.”
The no-hitter came as a form of redemption for Desert Vista, which was on the receiving end of a no-hitter against rival Mountain Pointe the week prior.
Desert Vista coach Cody Brassfield was still reluctant to talk about it, and for good reason. But he admits thought of two no-hitters in five days from programs just a few miles a part is something special.
“It’s a little easier to take when thinking about it in that way,” Brassfield said. “It was hard at the time and it still is. There’s some good kids around here (in Ahwatukee), a lot of good talent. That makes it fun.”
Childers has done it all for Desert Vista this season. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is 6-4 on the mound with a 2.92 ERA. He has a team-high 49 strikeouts and has walked only 18 batters.
The batting average of opponents when facing Childers dips to .194 when he is on the mound. In 36 innings pitched, he’s given up just 15 earned runs.
“I just make sure I’m happy with my bullpens before I go out there and I’m feeling good,” Childers said. “I just make sure I’m ready to go for gameday.”
Childers has been able to transfer his success on the mound to the plate on offense. In 40 at-bats this season, he has a .375 average with 13 RBIs and 4 home runs.
Against Corona del Sol, he went 2-for-2 in the batter’s box with a 2-run homer to add to the Thunder’s impressive offensive performance.
“I just felt comfortable all day,” Childers said. “Everything was working.”
When Childers’ no-hitter was complete last Tuesday, there wasn’t the type of celebration you would imagine. While excited, the team didn’t rush Childers or dog-pile him as is common when a milestone that great has been achieved.
There’s a simple reason for that, however, as Brassfield reminded his team how they felt when they were on the opposite end. That, and he didn’t want to add any more fuel to the fire as the Thunder were scheduled to face the Aztecs at Chase Field on Saturday.
“I just told my guys that as much as it was a really sweet moment, we just beat a team 14-0 and we didn’t need to rub it in their face,” Brassfield said. “We celebrated in the dugout in our own way. We were all happy for him.”
Corona managed to get the best of Desert Vista on Saturday, beating the Thunder 11-3.
But splitting the season series kept Desert Vista in the hunt for the 6A Central Region title as the regular season nears its end. The Thunder currently sit two games behind Corona for the lead, with two games against region rival Queen Creek still to be played before finishing the season against Hamilton on April 22.
No matter where the Thunder end this season, the no-hitter will always be remembered. For Childers, it’s another accomplishment added to his already impressive career before he heads off to play baseball at Lander University in South Carolina.
Even though he is going across the country to continue his career, Desert Vista will always hold a special place in his heart.
“It’s gone fast,” Childers said. “It’s been a lot of fun. My teammates have been great all four years. I really can’t ask for anything better.”