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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Taryne’s turn to pitch

    Much like Arizona basketball is synonymous with great point guards, Arizona softball consistently features the most dominant pitcher in the country.

    Arizona has had an All-American pitcher 18 times since 1988 and three pitchers named National Player of the Year, including two-time recipient Jennie Finch.

    And the Wildcats’ most recent ace, Alicia Hollowell, became the first four-time All-American in school history and helped carry Arizona to its seventh national championship last year.

    But Hollowell’s departure has left a huge question mark on the mound heading into the 2007 season. The Wildcats return all but one starter from an offense that averaged 5.4 runs per game in 2006, so all eyes will be on new starting pitcher Taryne Mowatt.

    Mowatt was impressive when she got the call last season, compiling a 21-5 record to go along with a 1.28 ERA. But becoming the starting pitcher means that she will not only have to carry her team; she will also have to carry on the legacy and tradition that all the great UA pitchers before her have established.

    That’s heavy stuff, but Mowatt seems ready for the challenge.

    “”I’m excited, it gives me a chance to follow in their footsteps,”” Mowatt said. “”Not only Alicia and Jennie but before them Nancy (Evans), Debby Day, just all the great pitchers that have been there.””

    Realizing just how high the bar is set for a pitcher at Arizona, head coach Mike Candrea has attempted to keep the expectations realistic for his new starter.

    “”I don’t think you can sit back and worry that you’re replacing someone and trying to fill someone’s shoes because that’s not going to happen,”” Candrea said. “”You’re going to leave your own legacy at Arizona and I want her to make sure that she understands that. She just has to go out and play her game.””

    Replacing a legend like Hollowell won’t be easy, but there is precedent. Hollowell replaced Finch in 2003, and went on to have arguably as successful a career.

    “”(Mowatt) definitely has all the tools and as long as she keeps improving she’ll definitely be everything that Arizona needs,”” Hollowell said.

    One advantage that Mowatt has is that while Hollowell was a freshman when she took over for Finch, Mowatt is a junior with 33 starts in her career. And the extended playing time she earned last year while Hollowell was out with an injury should prove invaluable this year.

    “”With her injured, I didn’t have another pitcher to help me out if I got in trouble, so I kind of had to look at it as I have to do my job because Alicia’s not here to help me,”” Mowatt said. “”It kind of gave me a look at what being the number one was like.””

    On the practice field Mowatt and Finch share the same personal pitching coach. Finch’s dad has been Mowatt’s pitching coach since she was seven-years-old, and as a result Mowatt says she and Finch have a very similar pitching style.

    Nancy Evans, a two-time All-American during her playing days at Arizona, has been UA’s pitching coach since 2001, and in every year since her pitcher has finished the season as an All-American.

    When asked if she thought Mowatt could continue the streak, Evans replied, “”I definitely think so. Nothing is a given, it all takes work, but she definitely has what it takes to be an All-American.””

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