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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hollowell finally claims title

    Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell raises the trophy over her head after Arizona defeated Northwestern for the NCAA Division I softball championship in Oklahoma City, yesterday.
    Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell raises the trophy over her head after Arizona defeated Northwestern for the NCAA Division I softball championship in Oklahoma City, yesterday.

    OKLAHOMA CITY – When Arizona first recruited Alicia Hollowell as a high school junior out of Suisun, Calif., she promised the coaching staff that she would win a national championship.

    “”She didn’t tell me it was going to take four years,”” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said.

    It took every pitch of Hollowell’s collegiate career, but the moment could not be any sweeter for the Women’s College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player.

    “”It was really cool,”” she said. “”I was finally able to celebrate. I came here to win, and now I won, and that’s that, pretty much.””

    The debate has been ongoing from those involved with the Arizona program about the senior ace’s worth as an Arizona pitcher recently. She put herself in the Arizona record books numerous times throughout her career, becoming the winningest Wildcats pitcher and a leader in a number of statistical categories.

    But the one thing she didn’t have was a championship, which was one thing all of the people she passed, Debbie Day, Susie Parra, current assistant coach Nancy Evans and Jennie Finch, all had at least one of.

    Candrea said that if Hollowell hadn’t won a national title, there would be something missing in her resume.

    “”Does she need it to be great in Arizona history? Probably not,”” Candrea said. “”But for her sake, I think her career would have been a little bit empty without it.””

    Senior left fielder Autumn Champion, who was recruited in the same class as Hollowell, said that in her mind, she would be placed among the Arizona elite regardless.

    “”She was already up there,”” Champion said. “”She’s going to continue to do really well in her career. I’m very happy for her. This does make a difference, but she would have been up there either way.””

    That next step for Hollowell does not include playing for the Tucson Heat. “”I have better options,”” she said.

    Hollowell will start her tryout for the U.S. National team on Monday, which will play all its games in the very stadium Hollowell just won a championship with in Oklahoma City, coached by someone familiar in Candrea.

    If that doesn’t work out, she is planning to play for a professional team from the Women’s Fast Pitch Association.

    Candrea attributes much of Hollowell’s success to Evans.

    “”Nancy and her worked so well together,”” Candrea said. “”It’s nice to have Nancy working with her because she’s got that tenacity that you want. I think she really handled Alicia brilliantly throughout the year.””

    Hollowell did indeed gain valuable knowledge from Evans, who doesn’t take any credit for her accomplishments but mentioned that Hollowell is now one of the all-time greats.

    “”She’s one of the great pitchers at Arizona, no doubt about it,”” Evans said. “”As far as I’m concerned, she’s the top. She’s amazing as a person, as an athlete, and she works hard.

    “”I’ve had the honor of being a part of her career from recruiting her, coaching her and working with her.

    “”When everyone doubted us, she stayed confident. She showed the world that she could lead a team to a national championship. She did it. She’s one of the greatest.””

    Evans was the coach who first recruited Hollowell out of high school and said that she knew even back in her high school days that she could be a dominant pitcher.

    “”The first day I saw her pitch, I knew she was going to be special,”” Evans said. “”I don’t think I missed a (high school) game after that. I think I saw every game she has ever pitched from her junior to senior year, up until she committed to be a Wildcat.

    “”When she committed, I jumped up and down in my office. I think I even shed a tear, I was so excited. I just knew great things were going to happen for her.””

    Evans said that her rapport with Hollowell helped her throughout her career, and that the two share very similar personalities.

    “”We know each other like the back of our hands,”” Evans said. “”There were times throughout this tournament where all we had to do was look at each other and nod, and we were on the same page. We knew exactly what the other was thinking.””

    Evans said she feels lucky to be the one that first recruited Hollowell and that she has gained a new sense of pride.

    “”I always felt proud to be her coach and always was happy she was a Wildcat,”” Evans said. “”This puts the icing on the cake for her. I couldn’t be happier for her.””

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