Reyna Carranco Hopes To Hit Arizona To National Title
Rene Carranco placed the softball on the tee, while his five-year-old daughter, Reyna, stood there patiently. She took her swing, the first of many down her path to becoming one of the best hitters in college softball.
Carranco, the 2019 Pac-12 Batting Champion, credits her dad’s influence for her abilities at the plate.
“Ever since I was younger, he was always involved. He was my first hitting coach,” Carranco told Softball America during a phone interview. “I never had any like private lessons with any other coaches. He was my No. 1 guy. He knows what my swing has looked like since I was five years old. He has seen me mature and knows what I need to do to be my best. He is my rock when I need to know what to do hitting-wise.”
Back-to-back seasons with a batting average over .335 to open her career proved that Carranco was a good hitter the day she stepped onto the Arizona campus. However, in 2019, her progression jumped another level in the Wildcats’ top-tier lineup. Her average rose, but the key change was the improvement to her slugging percentage. In her first two seasons, Carranco only hit three home runs combined before blasting five last season.
Arizona head coach Mike Candrea and associate head coach Caitlin Lowe have greatly contributed to that.
“I’ve definitely developed since my freshman year because I wouldn’t say I was the greatest. I feel like I stuck to it and tried to stay focused through the hard times,” Carranco said. “I just took Coach Candrea’s advice, he tried to help me whenever he could. I looked to him for advice and Caitlin Lowe...My freshman year I felt more nervous and less comfortable at the plate and now I feel at home when I’m up to bat.”
Candrea saw certain tools in Carranco’s game as a recruit, but he now credits the strides she's made to add power to her repertoire as the factor that has helped make her elite.
“Reyna has always had great hands, even from the time I recruited her. But she’s really developed into a complete hitter over her four years,” Candrea told Softball America in a statement. “She can drag bunt, she can slap, she can swing away and she can hit with power, and the development has come from being able to know how to use all of those weapons to her advantage. Like every other player, she’s matured as a hitter over her career.”
Carranco’s career at the plate hasn’t been all highs as a Wildcat. Her injury history the past two years hasn’t been on her side. By coincidence, during the past two seasons, pitches from former Washington pitcher Taran Alvelo left Carranco injured.
In 2018, Carranco was hit in the face, leaving the ball stuck in her face mask. She missed five games due to a concussion and broken nose. The following season, Alvelo hit Carranco in the hands during a May series between the Huskies and Wildcats. This time she sustained a broken hand and a pair of broken thumbs, but surprisingly, returned to the field just a few weeks later.
As much as her dad, Candrea and Lowe have helped her on the physical side, the injuries helped boost Carranco’s mentality at the plate.
“It was just a mental battle because even though I wasn’t 100 percent there physically, I knew if my mental (side) was there, I was fine,” she said.
Carranco not only benefits from a superb coaching staff, but also a pretty great squad of teammates. She plays the perfect role in an Arizona batting order that also features stars Jessie Harper and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza. Playing with her fellow talented seniors has also helped Carranco become the hitter that she is.
“It’s so fun being around them,” Carranco said. “They’re filled with so much power and intensity, and I just try to match them and get on base for them to bring me in. I do what I can to let them thrive.”
As her final season in Tucson winds down, Carranco has one thing she wants to leave there after she departs. That elusive ninth Arizona Wildcat National Championship.
“I want our team to leave the final legacy of winning the National Championship. That’s honestly my biggest goal,” Carranco said. “With my senior class, our biggest goal is to be the best in the Pac-12 and ultimately bring the title back to Arizona.”