May 3, 1991. Dawn Lacer, star softball pitcher for Buena High School, wakes up and gets ready for her grandmother's funeral.
Her teammates attend the service, in uniform. Her grandmother, Albina Coia, was the team's bus driver and biggest fan.
Lacer leaves the cemetery and prepares to travel to Vineland. She has a game that day against Sacred Heart. . . .
May 3, 2012. Dawn Scott, now the mother of another star softball pitcher for Buena High School, wakes up and visits with her mother, Theresa.
"My mom said to me, 'You know, it was 21 years ago that we buried mom-mom,' " Dawn Scott said. "She said, 'I've got a feeling.' "
Dawn Scott dismisses her mother's premonition. She prepares to travel to Vineland. Her daughter, Brittany Scott, has a game that day against Sacred Heart. . . .
Pam Pickett, who has been Buena's softball coach since 1988, says it was better than a million-to-one shot.
"You have a better chance of hitting the lottery," Pickett said.
But lightning struck twice for Dawn Scott and Brittany Scott and Theresa Lacer and Pickett and everybody else who has followed Buena softball for the last 21 years.
On May 3, 1991, Dawn Lacer pitched a perfect game for Buena against Sacred Heart.
On May 3, 2012, Brittany Scott pitched a perfect game for Buena against Sacred Heart.
"When she did it, I was like, 'Oh, my God, it's the same day,' " Dawn Scott said.
Standing next to her mom, Brittany Scott said, "But you always say, 'Everything happens for a reason.' "
On this Mother's Day, two perfectly pitched games exactly 21 years apart underscore the bonds between four generations of women - great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter - all linked by a sport, a school, a funeral service, a vision, and 36 straight retired batters.
Brittany Scott never met her great-grandmother.
"I've heard so much about her," Scott said. "My mom said it was her, her mom, and her mom-mom. Just like it's me, my mom, and my mom-mom."
In her four years as Buena's pitcher, Dawn Lacer was 63-15 with 478 strikeouts. A lefthander, she threw 16 shutouts, four no-hitters, and that one perfect game, which was shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule. She also led Buena to two South Jersey Group 2 titles.
"She always says she has that over me, the South Jersey titles," said Brittany Scott, whose teams have not won a sectional title. "But I'm going to get one this year."
Given her mom's background, Brittany Scott might have been destined to be a star pitcher. Pickett said Brittany has been an ace "since the womb," but Dawn Scott remembers her daughter throwing wild pitches all over the backyard.
Dawn Scott was Brittany's first coach as a 5-year-old. Dawn Scott also coached Brittany's first ASA travel team, the South Jersey Rage.
"I've never missed anything," Dawn Scott said.
In her four years as Buena's pitcher, Brittany Scott is 67-22 with 768 strikeouts. A righthander, she has thrown 48 shutouts, 12 no-hitters, and six perfect games.
Brittany Scott has signed to attend the University of New Haven on a softball scholarship. She leaves Aug. 23, a date she has circled because it will mark the start of her first extended absence away from her mom.
"Three months and 14 days - yeah, it's that bad," Brittany Scott said of the countdown to her departure.
She calls her mom her "best friend" and her role model.
"I look up to her as a mom, a wife, everything," Brittany Scott said. "She's everything to me."
Her sixth perfect game was something special. She said she wasn't aware of the significance of the date, and wasn't even aware of the perfect game during the first six innings.
"I remember warming up before the seventh inning and thinking, 'I don't think they've gotten a hit yet but I can't remember if I walked anybody,'" Brittany Scott said. "But then I told myself I had to stop. I didn't want to jinx myself."
Brittany Scott retired the first two batters in the seventh. That was 20 up and 20 down.
Sacred Heart's last hitter was senior third baseman Rachael Gavigan, a close friend of Scott's as well as her teammate in travel softball.
"It was perfectly quiet," Pickett said. "You could cut the tension with a knife."
Gavigan, who has signed to attend Mount St. Mary's on a softball scholarship, worked the count to 3-2. She fouled off one pitch. She fouled off another.
"Nobody could breathe," Pickett said.
On the next pitch, Gavigan hit a pop-up that Buena catcher Ashley Surran caught for the final out.
"Ashley came running out and jumped on me and said, 'Oh, my God, you pitched a perfect game,' " Brittany Scott said.
On the sidelines, Dawn Scott remembered her mother's prediction from that morning.
"It was so weird," Dawn Scott said. "I was like, 'Mom, Sacred Heart is so good. There's no way.' But she was convinced. She knew it was going to happen."