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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Commentary: Mowatt reaches celebrity status

    She’s just a 20-year-old riding on the coattails of a fairy tale.

    Last week Arizona softball pitcher Taryne Mowatt took a couple of days off summer school to bask in the presence of some of the nation’s biggest celebrities at the ESPYS in Hollywood. Little did she know they were basking in her presence.

    Over the last month and a half, Taryne Mowatt has become a household name. Her celebrity status is growing more every day, it seems.

    The night before the start of the Women’s College World Series, Mowatt was named a second-team All-American, meaning she wasn’t even rated among the top three pitchers nationally. Opposing coaches praised her, but called her “”beatable.””

    Then with blisters on her throwing hand, she led her team to its second straight NCAA title, fighting through five elimination games.

    Suddenly, at 5 feet 6 inches, she was the little giant. She received international attention, met President Bush, and went to a national sports award show.

    “”It’s all so surreal,”” Mowatt said after the show. “”I still can’t believe it’s happening all to me.””

    Amidst the “”nonstop photographers”” and America’s most recognizable athletes, Mowatt was selected, through online fan voting, as the female athlete of the year and the college female athlete of the year.

    During the award festivities, she mingled with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and actresses Ashley Judd and Kate Walsh. She took pictures with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, actor Matthew Perry, driver Danica Patrick, Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens and socialite Paris Hilton, among others.

    Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and former NHL legend Wayne Gretzky approached Mowatt, congratulating her.

    “”Wayne Gretzky came up to me and then said, ‘I’m Wayne Gretzky,’ and I was stuttering like, ‘I know who you are,’ “” Mowatt said, laughing.

    “”They all treated me like I was one of them,”” she said, “”but I still wanted their autograph and a picture with them.””

    Mowatt hasn’t let the Hollywood hype get the best of her, though, for she remains a hometown hero.

    A week after the Wildcats won the World Series in Oklahoma City, an 80-year-old man called the Arizona Summer Wildcat. He said the team inspired him to never lose faith, to never give up.

    “”Taryne is the first person I’ve looked up to as a hero since Stan Musual,”” he said.

    The Tucson native said that he wasn’t a season-ticket holder, but he would be next season. And he won’t be the only one.

    When pitching legend Jennie Finch was a senior in 2002, Arizona set a school attendance record, averaging 1,775 per game. But Jennie was in the past, and Taryne is the future.

    As expected, the humble hurler has given full credit to her team.

    “”What we did at the World Series will never be touched by any other softball team, or any other team for that matter,”” Mowatt said. “”No other team will ever have that much heart. People watched that and really took interest in softball, and that’s cool, whether it got the attention of celebrities or fans in Tucson.””

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