For nearly every Division I athletic program, summer provides student athletes with opportunities to travel, compete and train in new environments, without the academic pressure they may face during the school year.
At the UA, programs like baseball, softball and volleyball take a different approach in offering players the opportunity to recover from their seasons and work on individual skills while undergoing rigorous conditioning in hopes of a better season the following year.
Junior volleyball player Madi Kingdon had her first experience with international competition over the summer, participating as a Pac-12 All-Star in Beijing and Huainan City, China.
The Phoenix, Ariz., native was among 11 other top conference competitors selected to the team led by USC head coach Mick Haley.
“I feel like [my experiences over the summer] definitely helped me mature as an athlete,” Kingdon said. “I’ve never played out of the country before and it really opened my eyes to international play, which I think will be beneficial to my game and provide me with challenging and rewarding experiences [in the future].”
Meanwhile, fellow teammate Ronni Lewis used her summer to work on her technique, participating in the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team A2 (WNTA2) in Dallas, Texas.
Head softball coach Mike Candrea’s approach to summer was more relaxed. He rested his squad while letting them work on technical details individually, without organized training.
Sophomore infielder Lauren Young traveled to Brampton, Ontario, Canada, this summer to participate in the ISF Junior Women’s World Championships on behalf of Team USA.
“It was a great experience, and I loved it,” Young said. “It was a once-in-a -lifetime occurrence and it meant that I got to play for my country, which was a true honor.”
The Anaheim, Calif., native subsequently comprised a .286 batting average with two home runs, six RBI, and three runs scored over three games to contribute to her country’s 8-1 record.
Arizona’s baseball team sent 10 players to different summer league teams across the nation and kept at least four athletes in Tucson to work with strength and conditioning staff.
Juniors Tyler Crawford, Trent Gilbert, Joseph Maggi, Riley Moore and Mathew Troupe,, along with sophomore Kevin Newman spent their summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Meanwhile, sophomore pitchers Cody Moffett and Nathan Bannister played for the Alaska Goldpanners of the Alaska Baseball League.
“It was a great time,” Bannister said. “The competition was pretty good and it was a fun environment to play ball in.”
Bannister led the Goldpanners with six wins while compiling a 2.25 ERA with 32 strikeouts and just three walks in 44 innings pitched.
The Peoria, Ariz., native ended with an unblemished 6-0 record as the season came to a close and was awarded All-ABL First Team honors alongside his teammate Moffett, who had a 2-0 record with four saves and a 0.76 ERA over 11 games as a mid-innings specialist.
“It was definitely one of my goals from the start,” Moffett said. “It felt really satisfying to accomplish it. I was overall pleased with my performances but still want to work on controlling my fastball more accurately.”
The Gilbert, Ariz., native amassed 34 strikeouts over his 35.1 innings pitched and only allowed five walks all summer to conclude a successful vacation.
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