Arizona softball's Del Ponte finishing off her successful college career
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Softball vs San Diego State University
Senior softball player Brigette Del Ponte has experienced the highest of highs in her three-year collegiate career, and with a bit of luck, she’ll be able to end her senior season by correcting some of the lows.
Del Ponte had a freshman season full of highlights, awards and achievements. She hit .322 while subsequently setting a freshman record for home runs and RBI with 21 and 80, respectively. She also recorded three games with five or more RBI and 21 multi RBI games during the season while remaining consistent and performed well in postseason play.
Her performance was pivotal in the Wildcats’ run to the Women’s College World Series.
“It was such a great feeling to be at the World Series,” Del Ponte said. “The atmosphere was amazing, and the pressure was amazing.
It was a great experience, but it’s still just the same game at a different facility. As a freshman, I embraced playing in the World Series, but being a senior now, I’m remembering how hard it is to get there and all of the things that have to fall into place. I think I could have definitely appreciated it more.”
Despite solid performances in her sophomore and junior seasons, Arizona softball has failed to reach the World Series since. Now entering her senior year, Del Ponte strives to repeat her initial success and help bring Arizona Softball back to the Women’s College World Series.
“Brigette has been a fabulous player here,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “She is very competitive. She has become a leader of this team, and I think that is going to be a big factor for us this year.”
Del Ponte collected three RBI in five hits at the Women’s College World Series and did not record an error in twenty-one attempts in the field despite a losing effort against UCLA.
After her impressive freshman year, Del Ponte was honored with a plethora of awards, including being named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.
“That was a cool feeling,” Del Ponte said. “It was a huge accomplishment for me, and I wish I could have done more the past two years. It’s something I’d like to be working on again. I want to be up there again this year.”
Del Ponte’s sophomore season showed improvement as her batting average and hits increased to .335 (from .322) and 62 (from 59), respectively. Despite this, her homerun total dropped from 21 to 17 and her RBI production dramatically decreased, dropping from 80 to 59. She started all 61 games at third and compiled a .958 fielding percentage, showing off her quick hands and serious work ethic.
“She is a very versatile girl,” senior pitcher Kenzie Fowler said.
“She is one of our best athletes. Put her anywhere, and I know she will be great.”
In her sophomore year, Del Ponte also set the single season record for doubles in a season with 23, almost three times as many as she had the year before.
Her performance as a sophomore was so impressive that Del Ponte was honored as a member of the All-Pac-10 first team and was invited to the USA Softball National Team Selection Camp.
As a junior, Del Ponte started all 57 games at third base. At the close of the season, she was named to the All-Pac-12 second team and was named as one of 50 players on the USA Softball Player of the Year Watchlist.
After only three years, she sits in the UA top 10 in homeruns (53), RBI (195), and assists (356).
With the recent departure of underclassman Shelby Pendley, Del Ponte is expected to shift to shortstop for her senior season.
“She is a player and likes to compete, and will do everything we ask of her,” Candrea said. “She is very capable of moving from third to short and playing that position adequately. Some of it is just getting used to the decisions you have to make and the positioning you have to take. We want her to feel like she has been there a long time.”