clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Projecting the lineup as Arizona softball opens the season in the Candrea Classic

2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Softball Championship Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

It seems like just yesterday that Arizona softball was waiting to hear whether it would make the NCAA postseason for the 35th straight season after ending the regular season 33-20. The Cinderella run to the Women’s College World Series for a team that ended tied for last in the Pac-12 was huge in head coach Caitlin Lowe’s first season at the helm as the team wrapped things up with a win in Oklahoma City and a 39-22 record.

Now, it’s time to head into year two under the guidance of the legendary Wildcat. There are holes to fill and a lot of new faces. Who ends up where as the team opens the season in the Candrea Classic against Long Beach State, Kansas, and North Carolina State?



Ace: Junior Devyn Netz is the undisputed leader in the bullpen. She came into her own in the postseason last year primarily by improving her changeup. Now, she needs to carry that into a year when she is the only returning pitcher for the squad and will be called on to do a lot both on the field and off.

Depth: Arizona brought in an early enrollee in Aissa Silva to shore up a bullpen that features Netz, freshman Syndney Somerndike, and tranfers Ali Blanchard and Brianna Hardy. Lowe acknowledged that the pitching has been dealing with injury in the runup to the season. Although she did not say who was injured, it’s a concern that a group of pitchers who are largely inexperienced at this level didn’t get full preparation for the season.


Starter: This is the year of Izzy Pacho behind the plate. While Pacho noted that she has been working as a catcher behind the scenes for her entire time at Arizona, this will be the first year that she is at the head of the depth chart. She had a breakout year as a hitter last year as the everyday starter at third base. It was the first time in her career that she hadn’t been primarily a pinch hitter, a role she called very difficult when talking about her improvement last season.

Backup: The only other full-time catcher on the roster is freshman Olivia DiNardo. DiNardo came in with high school and travel team honors, winning the 2021 Alliance Fastpitch Most Outstanding Player nod. This is a huge step up, though, even if you are the No. 2-ranked catcher in your class.


Starters: The presumed starters at the four infield positions were all with the Wildcats last season, but one of them will be moving back to her natural position. Carlie Scupin, Allie Skaggs, and Sophia Carroll were the everyday starters at first, second, and shortstop last year. The only one who might be challenged for a starting spot is Carroll, but it would be a surprise if she didn’t get the nod to start the season.

The trio is likely to be joined by Blaise Biringer taking over at third base for Pacho. Biringer is an infielder by trade, but she spent most of her time at designated player or trying to adapt to the outfield last season. She shouldn’t have to do that this year.

Backups: Freshman Tayler Biehl had a strong fall season and should see some time in the middle infield, especially prior to Pac-12 play. Tucsonan Logan Cole may get some time in the middle infield, as well. Freshman Kaiah Altmeyer is another option in the middle infield. One of the trio may have to serve as a backup at third base, as well.

DiNardo can play first base, but as the only other catcher on the roster, it would be a surprise to see her there. Outfielder Paige Dimler can pick up some time at first, but it’s unlikely that anyone but Scupin will see much time there.


Starters: Two of the three starters are set. Lowe has already stated that Jasmine Perezchica will move to centerfield this year, which is her natural position and one she handled well when former Wildcat Janelle Meoño was injured last year. Dimler should follow up a solid freshman season as the starter in right field.

The question is in left field, which is now open with the move of Perezchica. Freshman Dakota Kennedy has a strong chance of grabbing that spot. Like Perezchica, she played center prior to coming to Arizona, so she has some speed and range. Kennedy was the top-ranked centerfielder in the class according to Extra Inning Softball.

Backup: Arizona has one other outfielder on the roster. That player is Ali Ashner, who is in her second tour with the Wildcats after spending some time overcoming injury and playing on the junior college circuit the last few seasons. She had a great juco career, becoming a national champion and NJCAA Division II Player of the Year at Phoenix College alongside fellow transfer Hardy. In the fall, Lowe said she needed to get used to the pitching at this level, but that will be true of Kennedy, as well.

Designated Player

This position could go to a power hitter, but Arizona used Biringer there quite often last season, so it’s not a given that the DP will have power. She could well be a speedster. It would seem like DiNardo might get the nod here since she won’t be the primary catcher. It would help prepare her for next season when Pacho is gone. If Arizona wants to go with speed, it could be someone like Biehl or Altmeyer, though. In all likelihood, it will be a freshman simply because most of the upperclassmen will be starters.


The biggest question will be who leads off. Perezchica did a fine job at the top of the order during Meoño’s injury last season and it would seem like she has the inside position. However, Lowe mentioned at media day that Biringer is also in contention for that spot. With the tendency of Arizona to use the nine-hole hitter as a secondary leadoff, the one who doesn’t lead off is likely to end up there.

As for who goes into the two-hole, Arizona has typically put a power hitter there.

The probable lineup?

  1. Jasmine Perezchica
  2. Allie Skaggs
  3. Carlie Scupin
  4. Izzy Pacho
  5. Paige Dimler
  6. Dakota Kennedy
  7. Olivia DiNardo (DP)
  8. Sophia Carroll
  9. Blaise Biringer

Candrea Classic

Where: All games will be played at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

Streaming: All games will be streamed on Arizona Live Stream-2.

Stats: In-game stats for all games will be available on Arizona Live Stats.

Long Beach State Beach @ No. 12 Arizona Wildcats*

When: Thursday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. MST

Last season: The Beach ended last season with a 29-22 record.

Kansas Jayhawks @ No. 12 Arizona Wildcats

When: Friday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. MST

Last season: The Jayhawks went 20-36 last season.

Long Beach State Beach @ No. 12 Arizona Wildcats*

When: Friday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. MST

Last season: The Beach ended last season with a 29-22 record.

North Carolina State Wolfpack @ No. 12 Arizona Wildcats

When: Saturday, Feb 11 at 3 p.m. MST

Last season: The Wolfpack ended the 2022 season with a 33-23 record.

North Carolina State Wolfpack @ No. 12 Arizona Wildcats

When: Sunday, Feb. 12 at 12 p.m. MST

Last season: The Wolfpack ended the 2022 season with a 33-23 record.

*Note that we use the NFCA/USA Today coaches poll as the official poll on this site.

How to follow along: Follow us on Twitter @AZDesertSwarm for all things Arizona Wildcats. For live tweets of softball and news throughout the week, follow our deputy editor @KimDoss71.