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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball team covering all bases

    The Arizona softball team won its eighth NCAA title three weeks ago, but the celebration has not ended.

    The Wildcats are in Washington, D.C., today and are meeting President George W. Bush in the White House.

    “”I’m pretty excited,”” said pitcher Taryne Mowatt, the Women’s College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player. “”I’ve never been to D.C., and not many people get to meet the president.””

    A roughly 40-person group – composed of players, coaches, administrators, area institutional representatives, former UA President Peter Likins, and the three seniors from last season’s team – flew into the nation’s capital last night and took a bus tour of national monuments. This morning, they are scheduled to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, and then travel to the White House for a tour at 2:30 p.m.

    At 3:45, the team will gather out to the White House lawn. Two girls teams from Virginia and Maryland will play in a youth tee-ball game, and some of the Wildcats will serve as coaches for the teams composed of 7-year-olds.

    Mowatt and four-time first-team All-American outfielder Caitlin Lowe will serve as base coaches for the game, while Kristie Fox, Chelsie Mesa, Laine Roth and Callista Balko have been selected to be bench coaches.

    “”That’s pretty cool,”” Mowatt said. “”I like that it’s a tee-ball game between two girls teams. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.””

    Added Balko: “”I’m really excited about the tee-ball game. I don’t know what that requires me to do, but it will be fun.””

    After the game, the nation’s leader will officially greet the party. The Wildcats will present Bush with a custom jersey and signed memorabilia.

    The battery of the team, Mowatt and Balko, said they will be dressed to impress.

    “”I’ve been thinking about that since the day we found out about going,”” Balko said. “”I’ll get a cute, classy outfit.””

    But even looking good doesn’t stifle nerves completely.

    “”There are rules on how to address the president, so I’m kind of nervous that I’m going to mess it up,”” Mowatt said with a laugh.

    This is the third trip to the White House for an Arizona athletic team. Coach Lute Olson’s 1997 men’s basketball team was invited by the Bill Clinton administration, and Coach Mike Candrea’s 2001 softball team was invited by Bush to visit Washington in early 2002. Last year’s softball team was invited, but a trip was never scheduled.

    Candrea told his team that he wanted to go into the summer in a good mood. The win over Tennessee on June 6 did just that, and a trip to the White House will be icing on the cake.

    “”What more could you ask for to go into your break with?”” Balko said.

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