The UConn softball team earned a much-needed win on Wednesday afternoon heading into a vital weekend series against East Carolina. The Huskies defeated Central Connecticut 6-0 in a 14-hit outburst to notch their 14th win of the 2016 season.
However, for four innings, the Huskies were only able to produce one run. That all changed in the bottom of the fifth. UConn managed to load the bases, and got an infield single from Ryne Nakama to make it 2-0. The very next at-bat, freshman Ally Hernandez launched a towering grand slam to left field to break the game wide open.
“That was huge, for Ally to step up,” UConn coach Jen McIntyre said. “That’s a really good pitch for her to hit, so if she could just get a good barrel on it, she was gonna be alright, but obviously we’ll take a home run!”
Hernandez’s home run was the first of her college career. Although the freshman has just 28 at-bats, she’s hitting an outstanding .393 with eight RBIs. In her limited appearances, she’s been one of UConn’s best hitters this season.
“It’s a learning experience as a freshman,” Hernandez said, “but the team is really helping me adjust to playing at the next level.”
Hernandez doesn’t normally describe herself as a power hitter, or any type of hitter for that matter. However, when the Huskies needed a big hit, she stepped up and delivered. Hernandez wasn’t even looking for a home run in that situation. The Huskies needed runs to put the game away, and she was just looking to drive them in.
“I wasn’t really thinking much,” Hernandez said. “Going up, I knew that I was just going to swing the bat hard and hopefully scratch out a run.”
The Huskies needed the offensive boost, too. East Carolina is the only team behind UConn in the American Athletic Conference standings, and the Huskies have a great opportunity to make up some ground on Houston and Tulsa. The team hopes that Hernandez’s big hit will carry some momentum into this weekend.
“I think everyone’s feeling really good right now,” Hernandez said. “We’re ready to take on ECU this weekend.”
Pete Harasyko is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.