Daily Sports Smile: Nebraska sophomore hits a grand slam on her late father's birthday

Nebraska's Caitlynn Neal (19) runs to third base during an NCAA college softball game against Purdue on Sunday, March 14, 2021, in Leesburg, Fla.
Emily Olsen
USA TODAY Sports+

Sophomore pitcher and utility player Caitlynn Neal won't soon forget the grand slam she hit that helped lift Nebraska to a win 14-1 over Iowa through five innings in the first game of a doubleheader at Bowlin Stadium Tuesday.

Neal swung and hit a low pitch that soared over the outfield and out of the park, bouncing off a neighboring building. As she rounded the bases, the Arizona native pointed to the sky. Sprinting in front of her dugout, she was engulfed in a group hug at home plate. 

After the game, head coach Rhonda Revelle shared that the hitter had lost her father this past fall.

Tuesday was his birthday. 

"She said, 'I'm playing for my dad.'" Revelle said. "And when the ball left that bat and hit the building, we all knew what it was all about."

Revelle was proud of the way her team rallied around Neal and said that the play symbolized what collegiate sports are about. 

"This team experience is nothing like they'll ever experience again," Revelle said. "It's really a beautiful thing what just happened."

The Cornhuskers went on to win the second game of the double header and extend their current winning streak to 15 games. It is the longest winning streak since a 23-game run in 2002 — the same year Neal was born.