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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


O’Toole to represent United States as part of softball USWNT

Courtney Talak

Arizona softball pitcher Danielle O’Toole pitches against BYU on March 4, 2016. O’Toole was named to the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Arizona senior Danielle O’Toole became the 19th softball player in UA history to be selected as a member of the United States Women’s National Team last Friday. She is the fifth pitcher to earn a spot on the team, and the first since Arizona’s Jennie Finch was a member of the 2008 Olympic team.

O’Toole was invited to try out for the spot at the end of last October and was in Clearwater, Florida for a week-long try out early this month. The senior said she was notified that she made the team the day after the tryout concluded and was blown away when she received word that she made it.

“I cried,” O’Toole said. “I was super excited about it. I think that I almost spilled my bowl of cheerios that I was eating when I read it.”

Senior and Arizona outfielder Katiyana Mauga lit up when asked about her teammate making the national team.

“I was very excited for her,” Mauga said. “[O’Toole] came on strong last year for us, so I’m very happy for her. She deserved it.”

The final team consists of a 20-woman roster, seven of which are current Pac-12 Conference competitors, and includes nine former NCAA players.

With a tryout mixed between current and veteran players, O’Toole had to be at the top of her game during the tryout. What stood out the most to the senior was the talent pool she was going up against.

“[I was surprised] at the amount of talent on one field,” O’Toole said.

O’Toole became known for being a fiery competitor last year, and anyone who watched the senior knows that on game days she’s all business. When she arrived in Florida for her tryout, she had already been mentally preparing for the week, but was taken back at the atmosphere of the tryout.

“Everyone is super competitive and super ready, but I just think that everyone was breathing easy and nothing was super serious,” O’Toole said. “I think that was the biggest ‘wow’ to me.”

O’Toole established herself as one of the nation’s elite last summer during Arizona’s NCAA tournament run.

In the Knoxville regional, she was responsible for all three of Arizona’s victories and tossed all but 2.2 innings throughout. In a span of 31 hours, she threw 16.1 innings that included a one-hit shutout of the No. 13 Tennessee Volunteers. In the super regional against eventual national runner-up Auburn, she held one of the nation’s top offenses to two hits in Arizona’s series opening victory. O’Toole and the Wildcats eventually fell to the Tigers in three games.

Head coach Mike Candrea knows what it’s like to represent the United States. He served as the coach for the national team, bringing home gold in 2004 and a silver medal in 2008.

“I know what it’s like to be on foreign soil and represent this country and know that not many people like the United States,” Candrea said. “Which is a little different feeling when you go abroad, but the best feeling is when you come back and you want to kiss the ground because you live in the best country in the world. It’s always exciting for a kid to get an opportunity to put on that uniform, and it’s like no other opportunity. It’s the chance of a lifetime.”

O’Toole led the Pac-12 in victories (26) last year and finished third in ERA (2.17) and strikeouts (192). She will likely be named a pre-season all Pac-12 pitcher, and after making the national team, could very well be named a pre-season All-American.

Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter

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