It has been a whirlwind of a year for freshman Alyssa Barrera of the University of Utah softball team, but she has enjoyed every second of it.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for the teammates, my coaches, the fans, my parents and all of the support that has gotten me through this whole year,” Barrera said. “It is just great. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Originating from Chino Hills, Calif., Barrera not only had to adapt to college in a new state, but she also had to adjust to a new team as a freshman. Ultimately for Barrera, that was not a problem. Right off the bat, Barrera said the seniors on the team made her feel welcome and she always felt like she was a part of the team.
Coming to play college ball can be a tough task to tackle for any freshman, but Barrera didn’t think of it quite like that. Instead, Barrera visualized college ball as just another competitive travel team, because according to her, “it’s a lot of the same.” Barrera said that she grew up facing a lot of the players she now competes against in college, so stepping onto this bigger stage was nothing different for her, and head coach Amy Hogue agrees.
“I don’t think she had very many adjustments to make,” Hogue said. “She was prepared really well on her travel ball team for this level of ball, and she knew that we needed her to come in and be an impact player right away. I think if anything, she just needed some games under her belt to learn the speed of the game, and that was about it.”
Hogue said Barrera has been fun to coach in her freshman year, because all she needed was coaching during the week. During games, Hogue would let Barrera do her thing, and all Barrera needed from Hogue was to be put in the lineup.
Barrera has made many memories not many freshmen get to make in their first year of college, let alone in their entire college career. One of Barrera’s favorite memories this season was when she hit a walk-off single against then ranked No. 1 Arizona on April 15 to win the series. It was Barrera’s two-out single that scored her teammate and brought the game to a 3-2 end in favor of the Utes. That victory marked the first time the Utah softball team took a series victory against a No. 1 team in the nation in its program history.
Another favorite memory of Barrera’s is a more recent one — beating BYU — because she believes there is nothing better than beating an in-state rival. The Utes beat the Cougars twice in her first season at Utah, but the one contest that stood out the most for Barrera was the 14-0 shutout against the Cougars where the Utes won their NCAA Regional, and that secured them a spot in a Super Regional.
With what Barrera has brought to the team this season and all that she has been able to be a part of, she feels like she made the right decision coming to play at Utah.
“No doubt, I love this place,” Barrera said. “I’m happy here.”