[Editor's Note: Nothing like late May or June to make UA partisans think of current and former Wildcat softball greats. Corky Simpson caught up with one of those, 1996 national player of the year Jenny Dalton.]
There is a Wildcat team within a Wildcat team in the heart of
Marc Hill, director of strength and conditioning for the University of Kentucky athletic program, was the strength coach for the Arizona men's basketball and baseball teams and assistant strength coach for football from 1995-99.
His wife, Jenny Dalton Hill, is one of the great athletes in
Jenny and Marc live in
A lot of cheering has gone on in the Hill household during the NCAA softball playoffs and the Women's College World Series in
"Oh, gosh, what an exciting time! Cheering for
A three-time first-team All-American (1994, 95 and 96), and College World Series Most Valuable Player in '96, Jenny also was a two-time Academic All-American and won the Honda Softball Award her senior year as the top player in collegiate softball. Candrea recruited her out of
Arguably the most feared hitter in UA history, Dalton owns NCAA records for runs scored in a season (101 in 1995), career runs scored (293) and career runs batted in (328). She owns
Among her closest friends during her Wildcat career were Leah O'Brien, Krista Gomez and Alison Johnsen.
"Leah coaches her old high school, Chino Hills, in
The one season in her
Despite the fierce rivalry between the two schools, Jenny said Candrea wouldn't allow the Wildcats to dwell on the fact the national title was taken away from UCLA. "He told us, 'They did something wrong. Let it go,' and we did," she said.
"It was a surreal feeling, though, to finish second in the nation and have to go home feeling terrible."
'96 was a good year for Jenny, but this '94 club had it all. Laura Espinoza, Dalton, Nancy Evans, Amy Chellevold, Susie Parra and Leah Braatz
'96 was a good year for Jenny, but this '94 club had it all.
Laura Espinoza, Dalton, Nancy Evans, Amy Chellevold, Susie Parra and Leah Braatz
"One of the best things about playing at UA is the support of the fans at Hillenbrand Stadium," Jenny said. "It's funny, but you play there and get the feeling every school has that. Then you go on the road and maybe 15 (fans) show up.
"You know who those fans at Hillenbrand are, too. You may not know their names, but you know them and you love every one of them."
Marc and Jenny met while at UA. He is from
"I'll never forget, the summer I first came to
Hill said that what impressed him most about UA was "The family atmosphere... Jim Livengood (athletics
director) and Rocky La Rose (senior associate AD) made you feel important. It was that way with athletes, staff, everyone connected to the program,” he said.
"That feeling of 'family,'" Hill said, "is the fondest memory I have of the school." He said his experience at
The nicknames aren’t the only things