Batters Know That Where There's Smoke, There's Jill Klein

updated 05/22/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/22/1989 01:00AM

When Jill Klein was only 8, she threw such a fearsome fastball that the parents of the girls she played against in the local fast-pitch league would scream at her from the bleachers to cool it. Finally Don Klein, Jill's father, bought batting helmets for Jill's foes—though she had excellent control and seldom hit terrified batters. "She was just too good to compete with the average ballplayer," says Don.

Not much has changed. This month—only four days after Jon Peters of Brenham, Texas, set a high school baseball record by pitching his 51st consecutive win—Klein, 17, broke a U.S. girls high school Softball record by notching her 104th career victory for Our Lady of the Lakes High School in Waterford, Mich. Peters got his record with a no-hitter; Klein threw a perfect game. "I had to win or I would have felt pretty stupid," she says. "Everybody was expecting it." Since then she has raised her four-year record to 111-18.

Remarkably, the 57", 135-lb. senior began life as a sickly child who suffered from high fevers and severe food allergies and lived mostly on goat's milk and rice until she was 6. Other children teased her about her teeth, which, because of a rare condition, were tiny and had no enamel. But all that only fired Jill's furnace. "I've always been competitive," she says. "At cards, marbles, Softball, everything." Including school. Jill, who has a 3.3 grade-point average, will study business and play softball at the University of South Florida next fall. Opposing batters should hope she adjusts well to the new challenge and environment. "When she gets mad, she throws harder," says Patsey Manis, her best friend and catcher at Our Lady of the Lakes. "I have the scars on my hand to prove it."

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