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Arizona softball 2024 season preview

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Nathanial Stenchever

Arizona softball player Paige Dimler (22) celebrates with teammates after hitting her second home run of the season on March 15 in Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Dimler helped the Wildcats win by hitting another home run to center field at her next at bat. 

The  Arizona softball team is back on the diamond, featuring new faces and fueled by fall momentum.

After wrapping up the 2023 season with a 29-25 record (6-18 in conference play), the Arizona softball squad has added six new players and two coaches to the roster.

Among these additions are three pitchers, including Fresno, California’s freshman Ryan Maddox. Maddox, ranked as the No. 6 recruit nationally by Extra Inning Softball, received the honor of being named the Gatorade Player of the Year for her state in 2023.

Joining Maddox is another talented freshman pitcher, Brooke Mannon, who earned the 2023 Gatorade Player of the Year award for her home state of Ohio. Mannon has also been recognized as one of Extra Inning Softball’s first-team All-Americans.

Graduate transfer student Miranda Stoddard, hailing from Kentucky, brings her experience to the Wildcats with an 11-4 career record and a 3.56 ERA, demonstrating proficiency at third base.

Taking the reins of the pitching team as the assistant pitching coach is the newly appointed Christian Conrad from Loyola Marymount University. In the 2023 season, Conrad led Loyola’s pitching team to a 2.99 ERA, topping the West Coast Conference.

The Wildcats have also welcomed three additional freshmen to the roster: outfielder Zaedi Tagalog from Tucson, catcher Emily Schepp from Torrance, California and utility player Regan Shockey from Chino Hills, California. Shockey, ranked as the No. 18 recruit  nationally by Extra Inning Softball, adds depth to the team.

Batting coach Josh Bloomer, hired in June from South Carolina, brings his experience from NCAA regional appearances with the Gamecocks. Prior to South Carolina, Bloomer spent three seasons with Duke University, accumulating a coaching record of 111-27 while there.

These new athletes showcased their skills during the fall, contributing to the team’s seven-game winning streak.

As this season approaches, the Wildcats aim to maintain the momentum gained in the fall.

Arizona will host all of its games through February at Mike Candrea Field at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

The schedule includes the Candrea Classic from Feb. 8-11, where the Wildcats will face Utah Tech University, the University of Northern Colorado, Lipscomb University and the University of North Texas.

Following the classic, the Bear Down Fiesta will be held Feb. 15-18, with the Wildcats hosting California State University Long Beach, the University of Arkansas and the University of Nebraska Omaha.

The Hillenbrand Invitational is set for Feb. 22-25, featuring matchups against Drake University, Indiana University, Marshall University and Central Michigan University.

Post-invitational, Arizona will travel to Alabama to compete in the Crimson Classic against the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama from March 1-3.

Arizona’s regular season games continue with matchups against the University of Louisville and Miami University on March 5 and 6, respectively. The schedule continues with games against various opponents, including Oregon State University; the University of Washington, the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of Utah, New Mexico State University, the University of Oregon, Grand Canyon University, ASU and UCLA.

In post-season play, Arizona was eliminated during the quarterfinals in both the 2022 and 2023 seasons. With the dismantling of the Pac-12 happening after this season, this will be the Wildcats’ last chance to claim the championship title since their last victory in 2017 under former head coach Mike Candrea. 


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