Tuesday Trend-Spotting: Kaylan Jablonski sees your three home runs and raises it with a win
It could be said that Nebraska's Kaylan Jablonski single-handedly made it worth revisiting a trend already discussed, but she needed both hands for at least half of a Saturday for the ages.
As already mentioned in this space, college softball is in a bit of a lull when it comes to pitching aces who also produce their own runs at the plate. UCLA All-American Rachel Garcia was at it again this past weekend, hitting a home run while throwing a complete game to beat Oregon in the opener of a Pac-12 series, but among top 10 teams, Florida's Aleshia Ocasio, Oregon's Miranda Elish and Texas A&M's Kayla Poynter and Samantha Show were the only other players to both start as a pitcher and so much as register an at-bat in the same game.
But that isn't to say Garcia is wholly without company. In fact, even she hasn't done what Nebraska's Jablonski did Saturday against Cal State Fullerton. Third in the Huskers' batting order, Jablonski hit three home runs in a 7-1 win against the Big West mainstay. And the senior made sure those runs were enough by throwing 140 pitches for a complete-game win.
As best Nebraska's sports information department could discern, and they showed their work in some exhaustive research, it was the first time in Division I history that a player hit three home runs in a game and earned the win as a pitcher.
Hitting three home runs in a game isn't unheard of -- it has happened enough times that the NCAA record book simply states "many" instead of a complete list of names. But given that only five players in Division I history ever hit four home runs in a game, and only one of those from a major conference, it is about as good a day as a Big Ten hitter will realistically ever have.
And that was only the half of it.
Nebraska's research found 129 instances of a player hitting at least three home runs. That included some players who were also good pitchers -- Syracuse's Sydney O'Hara among the most recent after her four-home run game a season ago. It included Idaho State's Amanda Fitzsimmons, who hit three home runs and earned a save in the same game in 2013.
But not one of them also got a win in the game in question.
As of Monday, Jablonski was tied for seventh in the nation with 13 wins. The six pitchers ahead of her and 11 pitchers with whom she's tied have hit a total of two home runs this season. But with seven home runs, a career-best, Jablonski ranks in the top 50 nationally in that, as well.
Long live the Babe Ruth, or Lisa Fernandez, of Lincoln.