Give that ball a ride!
That's what Jenna Turato's grandfather, Ralph Ratto, would shout to her from the sideline during her at-bats.
"That was his saying," Turato said. "He would always cheer that, and then I'd know he was there."
Ratto passed away two weeks before the season began, so Turato wrote his saying on the inside of the hair bow she wears each game. And Friday, during Carey's 7-1 softball win over Island Trees, she gave the ball a ride over the fence for the first time in her five-year career.
"I'm never usually the one to get a power hit," said Turato, whose only other home run was an inside-the-park gapper in her sophomore season. "I'm always the one that gets a poke here, a poke there, and I run things out. He helped me on that one. I know it."
With two on in the second inning, Turato pulled a low, inside pitch over the fence in leftfield to give Carey a 3-0 lead.
Turato helped her own cause. With great movement on her pitches, she tossed seven innings, allowing four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
Rebecca Vilchez, who went 2-for-4, doubled to knock in a run and increase the lead to 5-0 in the fifth. Ruth Rodriguez (2-for-4) knocked one in on a bloop single and Amanda Ulzheimer added an RBI groundout to cap the scoring for Carey (8-1), the defending county champion.
"We are so determined to finish what we started last year," Ulzheimer said.
Kelly Cembrale went 2-for-3 and Sam Petry hit an RBI single in the seventh to get Island Trees (8-2) on the board.
The Bulldogs nearly scored in the sixth, but Carey's speedy centerfielder, Brianna Pinto, charged in and made a sliding basket catch with a runner on.
"I was pretty deep," Pinto said, "but I was going to try for it no matter what."
In the past, Carey coach Anthony Turco pinch hit for his pitchers. This season, Turato begged him to let her hit. She rewarded him Friday with the homer. And in her next at-bat, she drew the first intentional walk of her career.
"I had to start showing him what I could do," Turato said. "So when I hit the home run today, I turned to Turco and shrugged my shoulders like, 'How did that happen?' and he laughed."
And what would her grandfather's reaction have been to the homer?
"He would've smiled," Turato said, "and told me, 'You gave that ball a ride!' "