You didn’t think a little old thing like a broken hand was going to stop the Pac-12 batting champion from playing in the postseason, did you?
Two weeks removed from taking an errant pitch off her hands, causing breaks to her left hand and right thumb, Reyna Carranco returned to action for the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday during the NCAA Softball Tournament.
And it was like she never left.
The junior second baseman—serving as the designated player—singled in her first two at-bats and came around to score what would be the game-winning run in the fourth inning of Arizona’s 2-1 win over the Auburn Tigers that propelled them to Sunday’s regional final.
Carranco was 2 for 3 on the day, raising her average to .438.
“It was nice to get Reyna back in the lineup,” Arizona coach Mike Candrea said. “As you can see, she hasn’t missed a beat. Made it look kinda easy.”
On Thursday, Candrea hinted that Carranco could return during regionals, despite knowing that such injuries tend to need four or more weeks to heal, though it seemed like wishful thinking. But when Carranco came to the play with a runner on first in the bottom of the second she got a standing ovation from the 2,639 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium.
“I thought it was super cool, I didn’t really know what to do,” she said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Welcome back, Reyna Carranco. The junior steps in for her first at-bat since breaking her hand. She got a standing ovation. pic.twitter.com/by7XwOnLMm— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) May 18, 2019
With a wrap on her left hand and tape around her left thumb, Carranco slapped a 1-2 pitch into the hole on the left side of the infield. In the fourth she rapped a 2-2 pitch through into left field.
“It just felt like normal,” Carranco said when asked about her first at-bat since getting hurt against Washington. “I got back in the batter’s box and everything felt like it was supposed to be.”
On both occasions she gave Arizona runners on first and second with no out, but unlike in the second when the Wildcats stranded those runners on second and third she was able to score behind Rylee Pierce on pinch hitter T Statman’s two-out, two-run single to break a scoreless tie.
Carranco accounted for half of Arizona’s hits, giving her 70 in 51 games this season. She said she had no worries physically but was concerned about the mental aspect of hitting prior to that first plate appearance.
“Mentally I just needed to work through it,” she said.
It’s unclear when Carranco, who was made the Pac-12’s all-defensive team, will return to the field.
“I think I’m still taking it day to day,” she said. “Whenever I can I will.”