Doing things Wilson’s way
Arizona softball utility player Hallie Wilson (5) rounds second base after hitting a home run during Arizona's 6-1 victory over Drake on Feb. 12 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Wilson has been an integral part of the UA softball team for the past four seasons.
Hallie Wilson received a text message from former UA teammate Brigette Del Ponte as she rode the team bus to Arizona softball’s game at Oregon State last Thursday.
Del Ponte, an All-Pac-12 third baseman who now is a member of the professional softball team USSSA Pride, got to break the big news to the Wildcats’ star senior.
Wilson would be selected to the Pride as the 28th overall pick in the 2015 National Pro Fastpitch Draft. Wilson was the lone Arizona player to be drafted.
“[Del Ponte] said, ‘Congrats, can’t way to play with you,’” Wilson said. “All positive stuff.”
The NPF is the only professional women’s softball league in the U.S. The Pride, located in Kissimmee, Fla., has won the championship the past two years and three times in five years.
For Wilson, a 2014 All-American and one of Arizona’s biggest offensive threats, the draft news came as a surprise.
The Santa Ana, Calif., native had already made known her intentions of taking the upcoming season off, as she will be an intern for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization starting this summer. So technically, she was drafted for the 2016 season.
“I was really excited because they still wanted me, even though it wouldn’t be for this season,” Wilson said.
For Arizona coach Mike Candrea, hearing the news came as much less of a shock. Candrea said the Pride had been in touch with the program, and he knew Wilson was on their radar.
“We’re very excited for her, and I think anytime you can separate yourself from others and get drafted is a pretty special thing,” Candrea said. “I think she can play at any level right now.”
The confidence Candrea has instilled in Wilson rubs off on how she plays the game. Wilson has remarkably started nearly every game of her UA career and is constantly among the team leaders in batting average.
This season, her .395 mark is second only to Kellie Fox.
Wilson joined the Arizona program with a list of eye-popping accolades, including a gold medal at the 2010 Pan American Championship.
She immediately made her presence felt, starting all 56 games as a freshman and leading the Wildcats in batting average.
Wilson has become perhaps Arizona’s most reliable all-around position player over the course of the past four seasons. And so far, her senior year may be on pace to be her best.
On top of an on-base percentage that hovers around .500, the first baseman is second on the team with a .993 fielding percentage. Almost nothing gets by her, at the plate or on the mound.
Fellow senior Chelsea Goodacre has witnessed the progression first hand.
“She and I are the only two left that have been here all four years, so we have a really strong bond,” Goodacre said. “She has been a big contributor to the success of our team.”
While the Wildcats have a little over a month left in the regular season before postseason play begins, Wilson’s playing days are far from finished.
“I hope to maintain the same level of play here and continue to grow as a ballplayer,” Wilson said.
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