The Arizona Wildcats have hired Taryne Mowatt as their new pitching coach, replacing Stacy Iveson who is moving to an administrative role.
Mowatt, who was previously the pitching coach at Ole Miss, pitched at the UA from 2005-08, leading the Wildcats to back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.
The UA softball legend spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since making her return to Tucson.
Here’s what she had to say.
Q. How does it feel to be back here and what have the last couple days been like?
Mowatt: “It’s really exciting to be back. The last couple of days have been a little stressful, sitting at home waiting to interview and then finding out that Coach wants me to come back. And packing up my suitcase and getting back here has been a whirlwind, but it’s been exciting. It’s just good to be back.”
Q. What was the process like? Did Coach (Candrea) contact you, did you hear there was going to be an opening and contact him?
M: “It was posted online and my first thought was ‘my dream job just opened up.’ Coach called me, interviewed me, probably day one. He interviewed me on the phone and flew me out for an interview, and this morning told me that I got the job.”
Q. Was it a surreal feeling talking to your old coach about working for him?
M: “Yes. Before, when my phone would ring and it would say ‘Coach’ I would think ‘I’m going to run foul poles’ but now that I’m older, I’m a coach now, when he calls me it’s usually with good news and to check in. It feels good to be here. It feels good to be coaching with Coach, coaching with Caitlin (Lowe) and the rest of the staff.”
Q. What do you hope to bring to the staff?
M: “I have to bring to my experience both playing and coaching the last couple of years. At Ole Miss we played a lot of tough competition, so it’s good to be here to experience this environment and to work with these pitchers that I know are talented and can be successful. And I know that they want to be at the World Series, and hopefully we can work hard everyday in the bullpen, get better, and get to Oklahoma City.”
Q. How much did you follow the program from a far?
M: “I follow the program very closely. Every game. I see a lot of talent on the field. I see pitchers that want to go out there and be the shutdown pitcher, and I see a program that is wanting to get back to the World Series and win.”
Q. How did the last couple of years at Ole Miss help you in terms of experience, and what was that experience like for you?
M: “It’s on a big stage out there and the SEC has a lot of quality teams. Everyday you’re playing somebody that’s a great team. And so that experience of the preparation side of it from a coach’s perspective, breaking down film, it translates into what I’m hoping to bring here.
“I’ve watched a lot of Pac-12 softball over the last couple of years as well, so I’m hoping my experience at Ole Miss can translate over here and I can bring something new to the pitching staff.”
Q. You drove out to Auburn for Super Regionals, did you ever imagine that a couple years later you’d be coaching the team?
M: “No, I did not think this would happen this quickly. My dream was always to come back to Arizona. I did not think that at my age, 31, that I’d be back here in Tucson.”
Q. What does it mean to know what Candrea thought of you and decided that you were the right fit?
M: “It meant the world to me that he saw me as a successful pitching coach, because it’s very hard to see somebody as a player for so long and then get to see them in their profession. So it means a lot that he sees me as a professional coach and thinks that I can get the job done.”
Q. You know the history of this program, how much are you looking forward to the recruiting side, being able to promote the school that you went to.
M: “The flights are going to be a lot shorter (laughs) so that’s exciting for me. And I get to recruit a lot more in California and the Southwest region where all my family is. So I get to be back here with not only my Wildcat family, but with my family as well being driving distance (away).”
Q. What has been the reaction from the players?
M: “I think they’re all very excited. I think they’ve just been waiting in anticipation to find out who Coach is going to hire, and so I introduced myself before warmups today and they all seemed excited. I got to talk to the pitchers as a group and go over my philosophy as a pitching coach and what to expect.
“Being gameday is my first day (Arizona had a fall game Tuesday) is a little different, but it’s exciting to watch them play and then get in the bullpen and see where we can go from there.”
Q. Taylor McQuillin comes back as the ace of the staff this year, what conversations have you had with her and what do you know about her so far?
M: “I followed her last year. She definitely had a successful high school that has translated into a successful college career so far. I haven’t had too many conversations with her, just saying hi at the alumni game and little things like that. But I plan on getting to know her a lot better these next couple weeks in the bullpen leading up to the season.”
Q. It’s a pretty young staff outside of Taylor, are you excited to be able to be a part of the development of all these young pitchers for their whole career?
M: “Absolutely. Anytime you can get a pitcher young in their career — a freshman or sophomore, even a junior — and watch their development over the course of the year, I think it’s very cool to see ‘this is where you started, we have spent hours and hours working on these little tidbits that nobody ever gets to see, and now it’s translating into the game and into being successful’.”
Q. You said you introduced yourself to the players, did they know who you were instantly?
M: “I think so! I was back here for homecoming, so the freshmen might not know me, but the returners, I met them all last year.”
Q. What do you think it means for the pitchers to have someone coach them that’s pitched at the highest level?
M: “I think they’re thirsting for knowledge. I think they’re ready to share in my experience and hear from my perspective playing through the program and playing under Coach Candrea and what the expectations are. And the expectations now are no different than they were 10 years ago. I expect them to be successful, I expect them to throw strikes, and I expect them to hit their spots. And they know that up front.”