OKLAHOMA CITY ?C Arizona softball senior catcher Callista Balko and senior pitcher Taryne Mowatt were named to the initial "Watch List" for the seventh annual USA Softball National Player of the Year Award, the ASA announced Wednesday.
Balko enters 2008 projected to be a four-year starter behind the plate, as the Tucson, Ariz., native has caught every pitch for UA in each of the past two seasons.
"Itˇ?s an honor to be recognized as one of the potential impact players in the country," Balko said, "but at the same time I think both Taryne and I realize that the work needs to be done on the field. Our whole team is working hard in practice and canˇ?t wait to get out there to start the season in a few weeks."
A 2007 NFCA first-team All-Pacific Region selection, Balko has caught for All-American pitchers in each of the last three years. Last year, UAˇ?s venerable backstop threw out 31 percent of potential base stealers and allowed just 37 stolen bases to Wildcat opponents all year ?C the second lowest figure in the Pac-10.
At the plate, Balko hit 10 home runs with 32 RBI; just one year after hitting 13 homers with 44 RBI in her 2006 campaign.
Like Balko, this is?Mowattˇ?s second selection to the preseason "Watch List," as the hurler from Corona, Calif., earned an NFCA second-team All-America citation for her work in 2007.
Last yearˇ?s record-breaking season saw Mowatt capture Womenˇ?s College World Series Most Outstanding Player honors after she set WCWS records for innings pitched (60), victories (6), complete games (8) and strikeouts (76).
Mowattˇ?s stamina was exceptional throughout the season, as she pitched UA to its second consecutive NCAA Championship.
She set single-season school and Pac-10 records for victories (42), innings pitched (370) and strikeouts (522) en route to the Wildcatsˇ? eighth national championship in program history.
The "Watch List" is comprised of 50 players from 34 schools and 14 conferences. The Wildcats will have an up-close at Balko and Mowattˇ?s competition for the hardware, as 25 of the nominees play for 2008 UA opponents.
Arizona, which has been ranked No. 1 in the country by both the USA Softball and NFCA preseason polls, begins its 2008 season against Notre Dame at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., on Feb. 15.
For ticket information for Wildcat home games call (520) 621-CATS or log on to www.arizonaathletics.com .
2008 USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List
Callista Balko (Arizona) ?C Senior ?C Catcher ?C Tucson, Ariz.
Brandice Balschmiter (Massachusetts) ?C Junior ?C Pitcher - Manasquan, N.J.
Chelsea Bramlett (Mississippi State) ?C Sophomore ?C Catcher/Infield ?C Cordova, Tenn.
Savannah Brown (Georgia Tech) - Senior ?C Catcher/Third Base ?C San Diego, Calif.
Katie Burkhart (Arizona State) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher - San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Tonya Callahan (Tennessee) ?C Senior ?C Infield ?C Holden, Mo.
Ashley Charters (Washington) ?C Senior ?C Infield ?C Beaverton, Ore.
Kaitlin Cochran (Arizona State) - Junior - Outfield - Yorba Linda, Calif.
Krista Colburn (UCLA) ?C Senior ?C Outfield ?C Mukilteo, Wash.
Meagan Denny (Texas) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher ?C Crowley, Texas
Lauren Eckermann (Oklahoma) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher - Brenham, Texas
Cristi Ecks (South Florida) ?C Junior ?C Pitcher ?C Manassas, Va.
Angela Findlay (Michigan) ?C Sophomore ?C Outfield ?C Lockport, Ill.
Samantha Findlay (Michigan) ?C Senior ?C First Base - Lockport, Ill.
Rachel Folden (Marshall) ?C Senior ?C Catcher/Utility ?C Baldwin Park, Calif.
Megan Gibson (Texas A&M) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher/First Base ?C Spring, Texas
Alissa Haber (Stanford) ?C Sophomore ?C Outfield- Newark, Calif.
Whitney Haller (Georgia Tech) ?C Junior ?C First Base ?C Marietta, Ga.
Molly Hill (Nebraska) ?C Junior ?C Pitcher ?C Wayne, Neb.
Dani Hofer (LSU) ?C Junior ?C Pitcher ?C Safety Harbor, Fla.
Becca Heteniak (DePaul) ?C Sophomore ?C Pitcher - Simi Valley, Calif.
Tiffany Huff (Tennessee) ?C Sophomore ?C Catcher/First Base ?C Saugus, Calif.
Carley Hughes (UNC Wilmington) ?C Junior ?C Catcher ?C Pittsboro, N.C.
Annie Kinsey (Pennsylvania) ?C Senior ?C Second Base ?C West Hills, Calif.
Sam Marder (Ohio State) ?C Sophomore ?C Catcher - Calabasas, Calif.
Cambria Miranda (Oregon State) ?C Senior ?C Second Base?C Camarillo, Calif.
Taryne Mowatt (Arizona) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher ?C Corona, Calif.
Kara Nelson (Illinois State) ?C Sophomore ?C Third Base ?C Moline, Ill.
Stacey Nelson (Florida) ?C Junior ?C Pitcher ?C Los Alamitos, Calif.
Emily Nichols (Iowa) - Senior ?C Catcher/Infield - Portland, Ore.
Chrissy Owens (Alabama) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher ?C Miami, Fla.
Lauren Parker? (Alabama) ?C Junior ?C Infield ?C Port Neches, Texas
Nicole Pauly (Northwestern) ?C Sophomore ?C Infield - Palatine, Ill.
Missy Penna (Stanford) ?C Junior ?C Pitcher/Utility ?C Miami, Fla.?
Melissa Pura (Cal Poly) ?C Junior ?C Shortstop - Salinas, Calif.
Brette Reagan (Baylor) ?C Junior ?C Third Base ?C Magnolia, Texas
Amanda Renth (Missouri) ?C Junior ?C Infield - Mascoutah, Ill.
Samantha Ricketts (Oklahoma) - Junior - First Base - San Jose, Calif.
Kate Robinson (Hawaii) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher/First Base ?C Honolulu, Hawaii
Killian Roessner (LSU) - Senior ?C Catcher - Manasquan, N.J.
Brittany Rogers (Alabama) ?C Junior ?C Outfield - Dacula, Ga.
Amanda Scarborough (Texas A&M) - Senior - Pitcher/First Base - Magnolia, Texas
Anjelica Selden (UCLA) ?C Senior ?C Pitcher - Vacaville, CA
Kirsten Shortridge (Baylor) ?C Sophomore ?C Pitcher/Outfield?C Keller, Texas
Holly Tankersley (Louisiana-Lafayette) ?C Senior ?C Designated Player ?C Kirbyville, Texas
Angela Tincher (Virginia Tech) - Senior - Pitcher - Eagle Rock, Va.
Jessica Valis (Houston) ?C Junior ?C Shortstop ?C Shiner, Texas
Sandy Vojik (DePaul) ?C Senior ?C Utility ?C Riverside, Ill.
Kim Waleszonia (Florida) ?C Junior ?C Utility - Fontana, Calif.
Tammy Williams (Northwestern) ?C Junior ?C Infield - Roscoe, Mo.