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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball reflects on seventh national title

    Arizonas Laine Roth slides into home in the super regionals against Louisiana State at Hillenbrand Stadium in May. The softball team slid into its seventh national championship this summer, its first since 2001.
    Arizona’s Laine Roth slides into home in the super regionals against Louisiana State at Hillenbrand Stadium in May. The softball team slid into its seventh national championship this summer, its first since 2001.

    For many collegiate sports programs, winning a national championship can be one of the most elusive things to accomplish in a season.

    For the Arizona softball program, which won its seventh national title this summer by sweeping Northwestern in the Women’s College World Series in June in Oklahoma City, the title may not have been elusive, but it was still a dream come true for its players.

    The championship ended a four-year drought dating back to 2001 and helped the seniors avoid joining last season’s senior class as the only one without a championship since the school’s first title in 1991. It also helped strengthen Arizona’s status as one of the most successful softball programs in collegiate softball history, as the Wildcats sit second only to Pacific-10 Conference foe UCLA (10) in national titles.

    “”It’s definitely still in our minds,”” said pitcher Taryne Mowatt.

    “”Sometimes I’ll be like ‘Oh my gosh, we actually won,’ but the new season is starting, so we have to look forward to a new era.””
    Taryne Mowatt, pitcher

    “”It’s absolutely unbelievable to us. Sometimes I’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we actually won,’ but the new season is starting so we have to look forward to a new era.””

    Mowatt spent most of last season as a No. 2 pitcher behind the departed Alicia Hollowell, who won the 2006 Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player award and also established a name for herself by dominating postseason play, going 4-1, including 14 shutout innings in the championship round.

    “”It still lingers,”” Hollowell said. “”It’s always nice seeing people and reminiscing about a national title. I really don’t think I’ll ever get over it.””

    “”We just played well at the right time of the year,”” she added. “”I wouldn’t say we were the best team out there, but we just played the best at that time of the year.””

    While Hollowell did all of the damage in the circle, Mowatt made some noise as a designated player by hitting a home run.

    “”I’m not disappointed I didn’t pitch then,”” Mowatt said. “”I pretty much pitched about half the games leading up to the World Series. (Hollowell) would get tired and there would be no other pitcher to back her up. I was happy I got to contribute offensively. I definitely think that her being well-rested at the end was a big factor in our winning.””

    Shortstop Kristie Fox had similar thoughts, and she also admitted that she is not still caught in the hangover of winning a national title.

    “”It was really exciting,”” she said. “”It felt really good. The whole team was working so hard. I had the summer to reflect on it, so now I’m trying to move on to next year.””

    Catcher Callista Balko, who Candrea dubbed the team MVP at the end of the season, is simply looking forward to moving on.

    “”You don’t want to hold on to something too long,”” Balko said. “”We have girls coming in for next season, so we have to move on. But when I get together with all the girls it brings back the memories of the last game.””

    Part of the reason Candrea called Balko the team MVP was because she started behind the plate in all 65 games for the Wildcats last year.

    “”To be honest, there was no one to back up,”” Balko said. “”We had good pitcher-catcher chemistry. I think Coach didn’t want to put anyone else behind the plate because he didn’t want to mess up the chemistry between me, Alicia and Taryne.””

    The team can’t pinpoint an exact reason as to why it won the championship last year as compared to any other year, but the players offered a few of the same ideas.

    “”Good fortune had a good part to do with it,”” Balko said. “”We got a pretty good bracket in the World Series.””

    Said Fox: “”It was a little bit of everything. We had some good fortune, we had a good draw, but we took the teams down together and we stuck together through the hard times so we could end up on top.””

    Hollowell spent the rest of the summer playing under current Arizona and Team USA head coach Mike Candrea with former Arizona greats Jennie Finch and Lovie Jung and current Wildcat senior Caitlin Lowe in the II World Cup of Softball, which they won, and a series of exhibition games.

    Since she is still enrolled as a student at Arizona, Hollowell is required to attend the first few days of classes. Later this week, she and Lowe will fly to Beijing and join Team USA for more international competition.

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