Tayler Aleman, Heather Harrison each hit homeruns to propel softball team to win
On a gloomy, overcast Sunday at Eller Media Stadium, the UNLV softball team (21-28 overall, 7-8 Mountain West) provided rays of light as they defeated Boise State University (23-25, 7-8) on Senior Day by a score of 5-0.
After dropping the first two games of the series to BSU 15-6 and 9-7, respectively, UNLV went on a mission to send their senior players off with a victory at home, and they did just that.
“Honestly it means everything to me. I’ve worked my entire life since I was five or six years old and its crazy to go out [at home] the way we won,” said senior Tayler Aleman.
The game was a defensive struggle to begin with. A diving catch by Stefany Valentino in centerfield saved a base hit in the top of the second and a lunging line-drive grab by Jamie DePippo at third base resulted in an inning-ending double play in the third inning.
With the defense keeping tabs on BSU’s offense, UNLV’s offense seemed to take notice.
After two base hits by senior Katie Uriarte and junior Tayler Van Acker in the third inning, Aleman reached base after a routine pop-up was muffed by the shortstop.
One batter later, the senior catcher Heather Harrison stepped up to the plate with the bases juiced. After taking the first pitch, Harrison hit a frozen rope to left-center that cleared the fence for a grand slam to give UNLV a 4-0 lead.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Aleman stepped up to bat in the bottom of the fifth and hit a solo shot to left that cemented not only the game, but her legacy as well. Aleman ranks sixth in homeruns in UNLV history and fifth in slugging percentage all-time with a .546 clip.
After the game, an emotional Harrison reflected on the day and what it means to the five seniors on the UNLV softball squad.
“It’s just a great way to end something that we’ve worked so hard all our life for,” said Harrison fighting back tears.
The Rebels’ season isn’t over yet.
Depending on the outcome of their final series next weekend at San Diego State University and a few other conference games, UNLV could still win the Mountain West regular season championship.
Although the day was full of emotion due to the fact that she’s played her final home game as a Rebel, Aleman was, as all competitors are, focused on the SDSU series and their potential to not only win the series, but sweep it.
“We just need to keep rolling, keep playing together and keep trusting each other. The pitching is better and if we just stick together I think we’ll be fine.”