Four Wildcat softball players named to USA Softball Player of the Year watch list

jessie harper
Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat Arizona infielder Jessie Harper (19) hits the ball during the Arizona-South Carolina softball game on May 21 at Hillenbrand Stadium.

USA Softball released its watch list of the top-50 players in collegiate softball on Wednesday afternoon. The list features four Wildcats: Aleah Craighton, Jessie Harper, Taylor McQuillin and Dejah Mulipola. 

The addition of Harper and McQuillin on the list isn’t surprising given their success last season. 

Harper was a first team All-American last season after hitting .333 with 19 home runs and starting every game for Arizona last season. 

McQuillin finished the 2017 campaign with an ERA under 2.00. McQuillin spent last season learning under Arizona ace Danielle O’Toole, but after O’Toole’s graduation, McQuillin will look to make the most of the spotlight.

However, Craighton and Mulipola’s national attention may come as a surprise to Arizona fans. 

Craighton transferred to Arizona from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette just last month. While with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Craighton hit .365 over three seasons and has 48 career home runs to her name. The power-hitting center-fielder also has a career fielding percentage of .966.

Mulipola is another story. The sophomore had a sneaky good freshman season, when she hit .335 with 12 home runs. Her success might have flown under the radar due to the amount of star power Arizona possessed last season. Additionally, Mulipola is headed to the Japan All-Star Series with Team USA, alongside fellow Wildcats O’Toole and infielder Mo Mercado.

Arizona isn’t the only team well-represented on the top-50 list. Washington, Oregon, Utah and UCLA also have at least one player listed. Oregon is tied with Arizona to lead the Pac-12 with four players listed, followed by Washington and UCLA, who both have two. Utah brings up the rear of the Pac-12 with only one. 

This news comes on the heels of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association preseason top-25 release, with Arizona starting the season at No. 7. 

It trails Oregon, Washington and UCLA, who are ranked No. 3, 4 and 5, respectively. Additionally, Utah is ranked at No. 15, and ASU made the top 25 at No. 23, to give the Pac-12 six teams in the poll.

This is also Arizona’s 20th season in the top 10 of the NFCA preseason poll, the most of any program in the country.


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