Pitching coach Taryne Mowatt utilizes her expertise to guide current softball pitchers

Saul Bookman | The Daily Wildcat Taryne Mowatt, the new Arizona softball pitching coach.

Taryne Mowatt led the Arizona Wildcats softball program to a pair of national championships and a pair of Pac-10 titles as a pitcher from 2005–2008. After a short stint in professional softball and a few other coaching jobs, she’s back in Tucson, trying to lead Arizona to similar success now, as well as Arizona’s pitching coach.

Mowatt pitched at Arizona from 2005–2008 and had a record of 100-33 in 147 games played, with a 1.54 career ERA. In 2006, she won 20 games, threw a perfect game against Cal State Northridge, won the Women’s College World Series and was named to the All-WCWS team when she hit .387 with four RBIs. She also won the Women’s College World Series in 2007 and won Most Outstanding Player for that tournament. 

Mowatt got her first big coaching opportunity in 2015 when she joined the Ole Miss coaching staff. She spent two seasons with the Rebels and took them to the NCAA Regionals for the first time in school history, along with the first SEC Tournament championship in school history.

Arizona pitcher Taryne Mowatt pitches against Tennessee in the third inning of game two of the NCAA Women's College World Series Softball Best-of-three Championship series in Oklahoma City, June 5, 2007. Arizona won 1-0. (AP Photo)

Her career has now come full circle now that she’s back in Tucson. As a pitching coach, she has the best staff of her career to work with. Arizona’s ace, Taylor McQuillin, has an ERA of 0.89, a vast improvement from last year’s 1.92. Head coach Mike Candrea gave the credit to Mowatt. 

“I think Taryne has been really a good match for pitchers," Candrea said. "She’s been in the circle, she’s got a good demeanor, can teach the game and she understands what it’s like. She really calls a good game. I’ve been really impressed with her calls.”

McQuillin agrees with her head coach that Mowatt has helped her take the next step in her development. Even before the season began, she knew something special was happening thanks to her new pitching coach. 

“I think it’s great that coach [Taryne] is here," McQuillin said of Mowatt in January. "I think it gives the whole team that younger, fresh mind.”

The fact that Mowatt was the Most Outstanding Player of the last Women’s College World Series that Arizona won in 2007 isn’t lost on the current team. 

“I know her and [assistant coach] Caitlin [Lowe] are pretty recent out of knowing what it’s like to play at the World Series and winning national championships,” McQuillin said about her assistant coaches. “They still have that drive and that want to win mentality and that competitiveness, so I think that it’s great to have a younger mind come in kind of teach us the ropes and the ways around things, and this is what you need to do to get to a national championship, and this is how we’re going to do it.”

But it’s not just the championship work ethic that Mowatt brought back to Tucson; she’s also a great teacher. Candrea noted that a change in McQuillin’s arsenal is one of the reasons why she’s so much more successful this year.

“As pitchers, you have to kind of have a different look each year, develop a new pitch, otherwise people will see it and scout it," Candrea said. "With [McQuillin], I try to stay away from the backdoor curve. Right now, she’s got a good drop [ball], which I think has been a really special pitch for her, a good off-speed pitch."

Another aspect in which Mowatt can guide her ace is in the work load that they both share as pitchers. McQuillin is now at 134.1 innings pitched on the year, with 21 games left to play. She’s already set a new career high. 

Arizona's Taylor McQuillin throws a pitch during the Arizona-South Carolina softball game on May 21, 2017 at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

Conversely, Mowatt holds the Arizona record for innings thrown in a season, with 370. While McQuillin probably won’t eclipse Mowatt’s record, Mowatt’s experience will prove invaluable for McQuillin in the long run. Candrea, though, hesitated to put an inning limit on his team's top pitcher.  

“It varies so much from kid to kid,” Candrea said. “I mean, Taryne Mowatt threw every game of the College World Series. So, it’s more of a mindset than anything. Your conditioning becomes a big part of it … but I think more than anything, there’s just some pitchers who love having the ball.”

Candrea went on to cite both McQuillin’s improved conditioning this season, as well as her confidence, as reason for her work load. He talked about her repertoire and again mentioned Mowatt as a big reason for that. 

“Taryne’s done a great job with her, maybe, with her pitches, giving her a little different look, but the other thing is the mindset, what it takes to go out there every day and compete and keep it at a high level,” Candrea said.

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