TUCSON, Ariz. ?C Arizona senior softball player Callista Balko and cheerleader Angela Peiffer have been named?finalists for Homecoming Queen by Bobcats Senior Honorary and Mortar Board Senior Honorary scholarship committees.
A Tucson native and graduate of Canyon Del Oro High School, Balko, a?history major,?is the starting catcher on UAˇ?s back-to-back national championship softball team.
Peiffer, a four-year member of the cheer squad, is a co-captain for this year. From Toledo, Ohio, she's a pre-med student majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology.
A three-year starter, Balko was named the first-team All-Pacific Region catcher in 2007 and has been a All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention in each of the last two years.
However, it is her leadership, durability and knack for clutch performances that have brought the history major notoriety.
Balko has been behind the plate for every pitch over the last two seasons ?C that totals out to 887.1 innings ?C and has 28 career home runs.
The biggest hit of her career exemplified the mental toughness for which she is known. At the Womenˇ?s College World Series in June 2006, Balko stepped to the plate against reigning national player of the year Cat Osterman, who was working on a no-hitter in the sixth inning. Over the course of her career, Balko had faced Osterman nine times with staggering results ?C nine strikeouts. With the game tied 0-0 and a runner on second base, Balko lined the game-winning hit to left field in a game that put UA in the driverˇ?s seat to a national title.
Off the field, Balko has served on UAˇ?s Student-Athlete Advisory Board among a host of committees. She has also performed community service for The Giving Tree, Catwalk and Arizona Families for Children.
While only a few student-athletes have been finalists, even fewer have actually won. The first of only three athletes ever crowned was former softball player and current Senior Associate Athletics Director Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose, who was Homecoming Queen in 1978. In 1996, track athlete DeeDee Buzzi was crowned Queen. Last year, swimmer All-American swimmer Adam Ritter was crowned Homecoming King.
Only a handful of student-athletes have been named as finalists, most recently Ritterˇ?s swimming teammate and newly-crowned NCAA Woman of the Year Whitney Myers was a Homecoming Queen finalist. Additionally, former football player Brandon Nash, womenˇ?s golfer Christina Monteiro, menˇ?s basketball players Kevin Flannigan and Jason Ranne are other Wildcats to be in the Homecoming Court.
Balko is joined on the court by two individuals with UA athletic department ties. Angela Peiffer is a UA cheer captain from Toledo, Ohio. For the men, Eliot Dash, who hails from Atlanta, Ga., is a manager for the swim team.
Every group on campus is allowed to nominate members from their organization
each year. The students must be seniors with specified academic performance requirements and be on track to graduate.
The Homecoming Court will be participating in Mall Events each day next week from noon-1 p.m.
Wednesday ?C Pie Eating Contest
Thursday - Mug Tug-of-War
Friday ?C Dunk Tank
Students can vote beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 31 through Thursday, Nov. 1, at www.uagrad.org/Royals . This yearˇ?s Homecoming King and Queen will be crowned on Friday Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. in Alumni Plaza.