UNO designated hitter Hezekiah Randolph had been swinging the bat well over the past few weeks.
But during that stretch, he never had a game like he had Wednesday against Jackson State.
“I felt like I was seeing the ball really well the whole night, and I wanted to be aggressive when I had the opportunity,” he said.
Randolph hit solo home runs in the fifth and seventh innings to tie the score, and he added an RBI single in the ninth inning that gave the Privateers the lead. They finished off an improbable 11-9 victory on the road.
The junior ended the night going 5-for-5 with four runs and three RBIs.
UNO coach Blake Dean said each of Randolph’s hits came at crucial times, but none of them came as a surprise to him.
“He’s a really important piece for us, and having games like that can make all the difference for a guy’s confidence,” Dean said. “He’s hit the ball really well, and I think taking him out of the outfield has helped him just focus on his hitting, and it seems like it’s helped him.”
Randolph has been a dependable presence in the middle of UNO’s potent lineup all season, ranking second place on the team in batting average (.338), home runs (four) and RBIs (29).
But he truly hit his stride over the past few weeks.
In his past six games, the Parkview Baptist graduate has a .600 batting average with six runs and five RBIs, and he had at least two hits in four of the six games.
He’s hoping he can continue that hot streak at the plate as the Privateers (21-15, 6-9) go on the road for a Southland Conference weekend series against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (13-23, 4-11), which begins Friday night.
“Our goal on every road trip is to start by just getting that first win and we can go from there,” Dean said. “It’s no secret that we’ve been leaning on our bats all season, and when you have a guy swinging the bat like he is it makes things a little easier.”
Randolph is savoring his big season even more because he says it has been “a roller coaster ride” for him during his three seasons on the Lakefront.
During his freshman year, Randolph hit .292 and led the Privateers in home runs (four) and RBIs (31) on his way to being named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and preseason second-team All-Southland selection in 2015.
Injuries and confidence issues marred Randolph’s second season. He saw dramatic decreases in his batting average (.258), home runs (one) and RBIs (21).
Randolph said he used last summer to get healthy and make some adjustments to his swing, and it has made all the difference.
“Last year was a big-time struggle, mostly because I wasn’t making the right adjustments when I needed to,” he said. “But this summer was huge for me, just to feel like I was back to my old self and I started playing the mental game a lot better.”
Even though Randolph is now enjoying more individual success then he ever has while at UNO, after winning 25 combined games in his first two seasons with the team, he is much more happy about the team success.
“It was tough losing as many games as we did in my first two years,” he said. “But we knew we were putting in the necessary work, so to now see it start paying off with wins is a really great feeling.”