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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Former national champion player returns to the UA as coach

Courtesy+of+Arizona+Athletics
Courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Alicia Hollowell bleeds red and blue, and considers herself a lifelong Wildcat after an illustrious career with the UA softball team.

Head coach Mike Candrea created the position of director of operations with Hollowell in mind.
“I needed someone that could be my extra set of eyes and take care of the busywork so I could focus on coaching,” Candrea said.

Hollowell served as director of operations for the team in the 2012 season, and by June she was the acting interim assistant coach for the final three weeks.

This wasn’t the first time Hollowell was thrown into the fire earlier than she expected either.

“There weren’t any returning pitchers my freshman year so I got thrown into the fire and had to learn real quick,” Hollowell said. “But I feel that is the best thing that could have ever happened to me because I gained tremendous experience from my freshman year on.”

Hollowell pitched for the UA from 2003 to 2006 and is the school’s career leader in strikeouts (1,768), innings pitched (1,122) and victories (134).

She was also a four-time All-American, named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 14 times and threw 17 no-hitters.

The highlight of her career came in 2006 when she led Arizona to win the national championship and earned Women’s College World Series Most-Outstanding-Player honors. Hollowell was also named Arizona’s top female student-athlete that year.

Outside of Arizona softball, Hollowell was a member of the U.S. national team from 2005 to 2008, winning two World Cup titles, the 2007 Pan American Games gold medal and served as an alternate on the 2008 Olympic squad.

When her career as a player came to an end, Hollowell started conducting private lessons for young softball players, which made her a top candidate for the assistant coaching position at UC Davis.

“It was a good transition for me because I was definitely not ready to completely step away from the game,” Hollowell said. “To have to retire and not be around the sport at all would be really hard for me.”

According to Candrea, Hollowell works with the four pitchers on the team and is perfect for the job because she knows and understands the demands and expectations of pitchers in Arizona’s softball program.

Hollowell describes her first experience as an Arizona assistant coach as a “whirlwind” because she was thrown into the mix unexpectedly. However, she found comfort in returning to the instructional aspect of coaching.

“I just rolled with it,” Hollowell said. “I didn’t have time to stop and think. It was what we needed to do and where we were at, so I wanted to do whatever I could to help the team.”

As the fall season kicked off last weekend, Hollowell finds its short length to be an advantage as she prepares for the normal spring season.

“I think being able to go through the process of developing pitchers through the fall and really getting them game ready will make the spring season easier,” she said. “They know me, they know my system and they know the type of coach I am, so that familiarity really helps prepare them.”

Junior pitcher Shelby Babcock is one of the players Hollowell works closely with on a daily basis and admires her “go-get-em attitude.”

“She has a great attitude about the game and is so fun, but she also buckles down and works hard,” Babcock said.

As an assistant coach, Hollowell’s passion for the game grew exponentially because she is doing something she loves every day.

“I get excited seeing pitchers make adjustments and do something good,” she said. “It just fires me up as a coach.”

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