Projected softball line-up breakdown
Arizona softball played their first weekend, and the handful of reoccurring starters had been defined. It's likely fans will see the following nine girls time and time again in the season, so here's how they stack up this early on.
Pitcher: Taylor McQuillin
The junior is coming off a stellar sophomore season where she posted a sub-2.0 ERA, with a 16-4 record. She’ll look to replace Danielle O’Toole as the veteran ace. She has a career 2.57 ERA, with a career record off 28-12. She also has a career save. She was a finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year last year. In addition, she was an honorable mention All-Academic Pac-12.
McQuillin is a workhorse. She threw in the first two games of Arizona’s season, throwing 41 pitches in relief in the first game and 68 pitches in the second game. She threw 83 pitches in a complete game in game number four for the ‘Cats and threw 67 pitches in a no hitter in game number five. That’s 259 pitches in a span of three days.
Catcher: Dejah Mulipola
The sophomore catcher is coming off a freshman campaign where she hit .335, with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs. She additionally started all but one game last season behind the dish for Atizona. She’ll look to be the rock behind a quality pitching staff. She is off to a hot start to 2018. Through five games, she’s hitting .500 with a double and two home runs. She’s occupied the cleanup spot in the lineup. Head coach Mike Candrea will look to Mulipola to replace a large chunk of home runs and RBIs lost with the graduation of Katiyana Mauga.
First base: Alyssa Palomino
Palomino tore her ACL at the beginning of her true freshman season, causing her to redshirt. She then tore her other ACL at the beginning of postseason play last season. The opening at first base, along with her knee problems, has made her the front-runner at getting the majority of the playing time at hat position.
Second base: Reyna Carranco
The sophomore is coming off a strong freshman campaign in which she started 56 of 61 games at second base. The California native hit .340 last season and got on base 44.7 percent of the time. A single machine, only five of her 48 hits went for extra bases. Additionally, she took a base on balls five more times than she struck out.
Shortstop: Jessie Harper
Harper is coming off a first-team All-American freshman season where she started every game — 59 at first base, one at second and one at DH. Primarily hitting in the six spot but ranging between the third and seventh spots, she made the most of her RBI opportunities, driving 56 runs in. Harper is locked into the shortstop spot reserved for Mo Mercado before Mercado graduated.
Third base: Malia Martinez
Mauga is leaving a gaping hole at the third base position; she started all but one game at the position. The one game she didn’t start at the hot corner, Martinez got the nod. She appeared in 17 games total, hitting .263 with only five hits in 19 at-bats. She was 10-for-10 in fielding opportunites, however.
Left field: Carli Campbell
Campbell split time with Ivy Davis in left last fall. The redshirt freshman hit .250 with a single RBI in the exhibition matches. Candrea doesn’t appear to like to split time between outfielders, as one player started every game in left field last year.
Center field: Ashleigh Hughes
Hughes started 57 games in right field last season. The senior improved drastically last season, hitting over a full point better than she did in her sophomore season. She hit .386, with a single home run and 16 RBIs. She is a career .318 hitter with three career home runs.
Right field: Aleah Craighton
Craighton transferred from Lousianna Lafayette at the beginning of the spring semester and will make an immediate impact with the vacancy in right field since Palomino will likely transition to first base and Hughes will slide over from right field. Craighton is a career .365 hitter and has several all-conference distinctions.