The UConn softball team struggled mightily at the plate against BC on Wednesday, but they still received an extra-base hit from one of their most consistent performers, junior outfielder Alyssa Gardea.
After a disappointing sophomore season, Gardea credits the new coaching staff for getting her back on track in 2015.
“I definitely feel like our new coaching staff has brought a lot of positivity into the program and personally helped me believe in myself coming off of a not-so-good season,” she said.
Gardea has had a lot of reason to believe in herself as of late. She holds the second best batting average on the team at .292 and trails only senior Emily O’Donnell in total bases. Her recent power surge began with a grand slam that gave the Huskies the lead in a one-run win over Memphis on April 12. It was her second home run of the season, and only the third of her UConn career, but she wasn’t done. The center fielder homered again in the second game of the double header that day. She also cut down a runner at the plate on a strong throw from center field, a game-changing play in another one-run win. The hot-streak continued against Hartford two days later when Gardea went yard for the third time in as many games, helping the cause in another UConn victory.
Gardea has become one of the Huskies biggest threats to go yard, but don’t tell her that.
“I tell my teammates, I don’t hit home runs. I don’t do that stuff. I just look to get on base,” she said.
Gardea once again credited the coaching staff for helping her break out of a slump and improve her approach at the plate.
“I was going through a slump and I just kept talking to my coaches, saying I just can’t figure it out,” she said. “In that Memphis series, it was just a matter of sticking in the at-bat and seeing that one good pitch.”
Her double on Wednesday, a scorcher down the left field line, is a prime example of the improvement in Gardea’s game.
“The inside pitch was my biggest weakness and now it’s my favorite pitch to hit,” she said.
Although she is admittedly more comfortable in left field, Gardea has taken control of the center field position and leads the team with five outfield assists.
“With center field, I love being in charge, so that’s a good comfort zone for me cause I love being vocal and taking charge in the outfield” she said.
A consistent two-way presence, the Corona, California native has clearly established herself as a leader on the field for the Huskies and figures to be an important part of this UConn team as they look to make some noise at the end of the season.