Question & Answer with Fourth-Year Erin Horn
March 31, 2006
Q: When did you know that you were going to have to become an every day player in the outfield as well?
EH: I really only knew about two or three days before we started playing. A lot of girls got hurt. We had Sarah Tacke, who is a first-year, hurt her knee and is out for the season. We’ve just had a lot of injuries and the coaches were looking at all possibilities. I started practicing out in left field and coming to practice early to hit and get my swing back.
Q: How did you initially feel about your expanded role?
EH: I was excited. I played in the outfield before I got to college, so it’s not new. But I was definitely nervous because it was my first time out there in college, and I didn’t want to let anyone down.
Q: How has playing the field every day affected your pitching preparation?
EH: It’s kind of hard sometimes because I have to rush off the field and go straight to the bullpen, and go from the bullpen to the on deck circle. Then I bat, run the bases, and then go back to the bullpen. So it’s really a lot of just rushing around. It can be a lot, but I know that’s one of the ways I can help the team.
Q: Do you enjoy playing in the field, hitting, and pitching more than just pitching?
EH: Yeah, I really like being part of the entire game. It’s a different view when you’re not just pitching or when you’re not just one of the pitchers waiting to go in. You feel a lot more in the game I think.
Q: You had very few at bats in your first three years and you played very little in the field. Did you play a fair amount in the field during high school or were you almost exclusively a pitcher?
EH: During high school I was mainly a pitcher. I pitched a lot and played a little first base. I played outfield mostly during summer ball. Whenever I wasn’t pitching, I played in the outfield.
Q: With such a short amount of preparation time going into the season, what type of hitting and fielding goals did you set for yourself at the beginning of the season?
EH: Just give it all that I have. That’s all I can do.
Q: Have you become more comfortable at the plate and in the field as the season has progressed?
EH: Yeah, definitely. I was actually surprised. This year was my first time batting since my first year. I only had like four or five at-bats then. I was surprised at how relaxed I actually was in the batter’s box. I wasn’t really nervous at all, so I guess that really hasn’t changed since I last hit. I’m not nervous batting, and obviously playing in the outfield a good amount and getting reps has built up my confidence, so I’m not as nervous out there.
Q: How happy are you with how you’ve played in the field and at the plate?
EH: Well I’d like to pick it up a little bit at the plate, but other than that I’m pretty content with my play in the field. Obviously you can always do better, but I would definitely like to pick it up at the plate.
Q: Against George Mason you had the game-winning hit in the first game of the doubleheader. Was that the first game-winning hit of your college career? How did that feel?
EH: It wasn’t my first game-winning hit. I don’t know how many game-winning hits I’ve had. The one against George Mason was pretty interesting. It was an infield hit, a little dinker over the pitcher, but it got the job done. It felt good because it put us up a run, so it was a little bit of a relief when we went back out onto the field. There is a little less pressure on defense when you are ahead in extra innings.
Q: What have been the highlights of your UVA career up to this point?
EH: I think my favorite wins have been against Florida State, Fresno State, and the University of Pacific my second-year (2004). They were all highly ranked teams at the time, and the games were really exciting for sure.
Q: You’ve been UVA’s top pitcher for four years now and you have your lowest ERA of any year so far. How have you matured as a pitcher and where have you improved the most?
EH: I’ve given up fewer walks. After a walk, some big percentage of the time the runner ends up scoring, especially if it’s a leadoff walk. By giving up fewer walks, you’re not going to have as many runs scored against you. If somebody gets a hit and there’s nobody on base, then the hit doesn’t do as much damage.
Q: How have you helped the younger pitchers on the team like Madi Gore make the adjustment to playing ACC softball?
EH: I mostly try to help them with not losing confidence over things that you shouldn’t lose confidence over. I know I’ve suffered a little bit from that in the past, so I try to make sure that doesn’t happen to them as well.
Q: What do you think of the pitching staff’s overall performance this year?
EH: This year in general the pitching staff has done better than in my other years. We’ve gotten the walks down and taken care of things that have haunted us in the past. There is always room for improvement though and we are striving to improve every day.