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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Balko, Mowatt headed for Glory”

    Arizona catcher Callista Balko, left, and pitcher Taryne Mowatt exchange words in a 2-1 loss to UCLA at Hillenbrand Stadium on April 13. The seniors are playing professionally for the Washington, D.C. Glory this summer.
    Arizona catcher Callista Balko, left, and pitcher Taryne Mowatt exchange words in a 2-1 loss to UCLA at Hillenbrand Stadium on April 13. The seniors are playing professionally for the Washington, D.C. Glory this summer.

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Playing at Arizona, softball players Taryne Mowatt and Callista Balko got used to winning. After all, the Wildcats went 190-56-1 over the past four years.

    After completing their college eligibility with the Wildcats in the Women’s College World Series last month, Mowatt, a pitcher, and Balko, a catcher, will be playing for the National Pro Fastpitch League’s Washington, D.C. Glory this summer. The Glory won the NPF title last summer.

    “”We’ve expected to win with the Wildcats and we’ll expect to win with the Glory,”” Mowatt said.

    Mowatt was drafted sixth overall in the league’s 2008 draft and Balko signed as a free agent. The two players were called in February about going pro, and even though Mowatt was drafted pretty high, she wasn’t necessarily a hot item at first.

    “”A lot of people had heard that I was going overseas to play so nobody in the professional league even thought that I was going to be here,”” Mowatt said. “”So finally one of the owners called me and was like, ‘Are you playing in Japan?’ And I’m like, ‘Nope. I don’t want to play in Japan.’ And he was like, ‘Well, would you be OK with us drafting you?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, why not?'””

    Though Balko admitted that what she knows about pro softball is only from watching the Tucson Heat, which no longer exists, she said she’s heard that it’s not as competitive as college softball, despite the talent. Even so, she said she will still compete hard and treat it the same for as long as she can.

    “”Every summer I’m gonna play until my body can’t handle it anymore,”” Balko said. “”I have such a heart for the game. I’m not exactly the most talented player but my drive and will to play is stronger than most.””

    The two Wildcats will be teammates with Monica Abbott, who pitched Tennessee to the WCWS Championship Series against the Wildcats in 2007. Balko and Mowatt follow in the footsteps of former Wildcat Kristie Fox, who signed for the Chicago Bandits last summer. Fox said she received a warm welcome from former Wildcats Autumn Champion and Jennie Finch.

    What is it about Arizona that continues to produce stellar NPF players?

    “”It’s the tradition of the program that (Arizona head) coach Mike Candrea has built,”” Finch told the Wildcat in a phone interview after Fox was drafted. “”As a little girl you dream of competing at the highest level and the University of Arizona does that. It’s exciting to have other Wildcats head out (to other pro teams).””

    The Glory has four games at Akron, Ohio, this week and the entire season runs through the end of August. With such a short pro season – consisting of just the summer months – most pro softball players have to find another “”job.””

    Mowatt and Balko each have their eyes set on sports broadcasting.

    “”Some doors have been opening into maybe broadcasting and possibly personal training,”” Balko said. “”Those are two completely different routes I can take.””

    Mowatt took a tour of the ESPN buses outside of Amateur Softball Hall of Fame Stadium during the Women’s College World Series, picked up some business cards and made some connections.

    “”I want to be a sideline reporter,”” Mowatt said. “”That’s what I want to do and anything that has to do with being on camera will be fine with me.””

    Mowatt told reporters at the WCWS that she would love to work with ESPN’s Erin Andrews, one of the most successful and well-known sideline reporters in the field.

    “”I’ve been pitching the idea that there should be an Erin and Taryne duo,”” Mowatt told The Oklahoman.

    Andrews told the Wildcat in a November phone interview that prior reporting experience is very beneficial, but not necessarily a must.

    “”I always tell people trying to get into this field that it’s always great to have an internship behind you before you go into this profession, but the most important thing is to have an interest in what you’re doing,”” Andrews said. “”If you do your research and you have a passion for sports, the sky is the limit.””

    But before Balko and Mowatt get into their respective careers, they have to finish school. Balko, a history major, said she still has a year left of school. Mowatt, a communications major, said she has a semester of classes left. Wherever they go from there, however, they’re sure to represent the Wildcats well.

    “”Those two,”” UA assistant coach Larry Ray said, “”have definitely left their mark on U of A softball.””

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