Alyssa Reina is the catcher for a North Dakota State softball team which has gone 6-0 against Big 10 teams and 1-1 against nationally ranked opponents.
But for her, it’s just a game with – and against – friends.
The redshirt sophomore said she knows at least one player from each Big 10 team the Bison have played from her days on a travel team before college. Though NDSU (32-7, 10-2) comes from the Summit League, Reina has gotten plenty of compliments from her friendly rivals from bigger schools.
“To be honest, I don’t really draw from past games,” Reina said. “I just go into every game thinking that’s it’s just another opportunity to play and get better. I never go into a game thinking the team is ranked, it’s just another chance to play.”
The Auburn, Calif., native has a .336 batting average this year along with a .622 slugging percentage. In 119 trips to the plate, she’s cranked out 36 RBI, eight home runs, eight doubles, 40 hits and has put up 29 runs scored.
From behind the plate, Reina has tallied 347 putouts and has a .995 fielding percentage.
All of this comes in her first season back from a shoulder surgery that led to her redshirting last year.
As a freshman in 2013, Reina put up similar numbers – a .292 batting average, 27 runs, 40 hits, eight home runs, 27 RBI and a .511 slugging percentage.
Bison co-head coach Darren Mueller said even though injury took out her second year in the program, he knew she would step in just fine.
“She’s got a great attitude and hits the ball hard,” Mueller said. “She’s somebody who came on this year who we knew, after sitting out with her injury last year, she was going to come out here and perform well. She’s actually probably done a little bit more than we thought she could coming back from shoulder surgery.”
Reina’s most helpful attribute to her team may be intangible. With pitchers like Krista Menke at the circle, Reina has made sure she’s been heard from behind home plate.
“I feed off of her a lot,” Reina said of Menke. “I let her know that too because I’m a pretty vocal catcher. Her and I mesh really well. I have good relationships with all of my pitchers just because I want to, but Krista and I have had three years to do so. I love it.”
In fact, Reina and Menke are so close they live together, so naturally the duo spend plenty of time together.
“With 17 girls on the team, you kind of want some space sometimes,” Reina said with a laugh. “Our team has always been really close, so not saying I never want to be around them. It’s never been like that.”
NDSU coaches have heavy recruiting ties to the state of California, and Reina is yet another example. Reina played for the California Comets in a summer league before coming to NDSU.
She was actually recruited with Bison teammate Logan Moreland at the same tournament. Both Moreland and Reina were playing in a Denver tournament and they both ended up scouted to a couple of the same schools.
“You go to so many different tournaments, hoping a college scout will see you,” Reina said. “We ended up coming and visiting on the same day and we just fell in love with it… Two weeks later I called saying I wanted to be a Bison.”
As a Bison, Reina has been a part of a Summit League championship team. In her freshman year, Reina was named to the Summit League All-Tournament team.
Now in her second year of play, Mueller said there’s no reason Renia won’t continue her command of Summit League opponents.
“She’s just got a great attitude and great command behind the plate,” Mueller said. “She’s done a tremendous job for us.”