As a senior preparing for graduation and life after college, softball player Alyssa Heren has a lot on her plate. Heren has continued to work hard and make her last season as a Cougar one to remember.
Heren, a senior exercise science major, was recruited her junior year of high school and has played for SIUE for four years as an outfielder.
In 2018, Heren became the 22nd player in school history to score 100 runs in a career. She also has the seventh-highest career fielding record in history with .996, which she achieved in the 2016-17 season. So far for the 2018-19 season, Heren holds the highest batting average for the team with .380.
According to Heren, her love for softball started at 6 years old when she started playing baseball and then joined a softball team.
Heren continued to play through high school and now through college.
Heren said she realized softball is so compelling to her because, most of the time, players are failing.
“I like the team atmosphere and that it’s just an overly difficult sport. If you’re failing 70 percent of the time, then you’re doing really good. It’s just unique in that aspect, and I just fell in love with the sport when I was little and have kept it going ever since,” Heren said.
Another thing Heren enjoys about softball is how close she is with her teammates and the relationships she has with her coaches.
“With the team, we’re all best friends, like sisters. We yell at each other when we need to, but we’re also best friends so it’s like a family atmosphere,” Heren said.
One of Heren’s close teammates and friends on the team is junior catcher Kalei Kaneshiro, who said Heren is calm, cool and collected, which helps in all aspects of the sport.
“Softball-wise, the tools that Alyssa brings to the team are really important; speed, defense, offense — she’s pretty much an all-around star player,” Kaneshiro said.
Interim Head Coach Jessica Jones, who has been a part of Cougar softball since July 2013, said she has seen Heren’s skills improve in the years she has played.
“She is one of the best outfielders, I think, in the conference and in the region. She’s fast. She’s a triple-threat. She can hit for power. She is definitely someone who is a force to be reckoned with, both offensively and defensively,” Jones said.
According to Jones, although the players spend a lot of time in practice or at games, Heren still makes time to maintain good grades.
“She is definitely the definition of a student-athlete. She does great in the classroom as well as on the field,” Jones said.
According to Heren, one of her most memorable moments is when the team qualified for the Ohio Valley Conference Championship her freshman and sophomore years.
Heren contributes a lot to the team, both with her skills and her attitude when playing.
“I’d say that [one of my biggest contributions to the team] is my glove in the outfield. I think that everyone knows and trusts that I will catch the ball no matter where it’s at,” Heren said.
After this semester, Heren plans to move to Colorado for an internship and will graduate at the end of the summer.