Taylor McQuillin, Reyna Carranco, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, Joelle Krist and Hillary Edior all made that list.
While McQuillin, Carranco and Palomino-Cardoza have been on the field for most of their Arizona careers, Edior has found a way to contribute regardless of her playing time.
“She’s just a leader on and off the field,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “Her growth throughout the last four years has been incredible. She’s someone I know that everyone can go to to talk to, to just get through stuff that they’re going through, and get help when they need it. So, she’s a leader in that aspect—just being someone to always talk to and not being scared to go up and say anything.”
Edior says her ability to speak her mind has been her greatest asset when it comes to growing into that leadership role. That’s just part of being the fourth of nine siblings.
“Growing up in a big family, you know you have to have a voice or you don’t get heard,” she explained.
Finding that voice wasn’t easy. She had to work on that, too.
“Girls, growing up, they don’t get their say,” Edior said. “My brothers are very over-protective, too.”
Although her leadership is often the first thing mentioned when others speak of Edior, it’s not to say that she hasn’t also had an impact on the field. She came to Arizona having played catcher and first base, but most of her contributions as a Wildcat have been as a designated player or pinch-hitter.
Her senior season got off to a slow start, but she’s raised her batting average to .333 after two months of lights-out hitting. Over that time, she’s hitting .565 in 23 at-bats, including two doubles and two home runs.
Her best day at the plate came against Utah on April 7 when she went 4 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored. She followed that up with an RBI in each of Arizona’s games against Grand Canyon before returning home to face Stanford.
In the Stanford series, Edior took over the role of designated player. Arizona coach Mike Candrea had his reasons.
“I think she’s got great potential,” Candrea said. “I thought it was a really good match-up for her considering that Stanford was trying to really hammer our hitters inside, and that’s one of her strengths in pulling the ball.”
Edior came through in a big way during the three-game series that included two run-rule victories. She had four hits and a walk in her seven plate appearances, while striking out only once. Two of those hits went for extra bases—a home run in the opening game and a double in the middle contest. For the series, she had a slugging percentage of 1.333 and an on-base percentage of .714.
That home run? It came on a drop ball inside, Edior said.
“That’s one of my favorites, for sure,” she said. “So is outside, so is a change-up, so is a rise ball... I’m just kidding. It’s my favorite pitch.”
Being ready to contribute when called on has taken some getting used to. Edior said it wasn’t easy to go from her role in high school, when she was an everyday player, to her role at Arizona.
“It’s not easy, but you definitely have to focus on the hitters in front of you,” she said. “So, take more at-bats with them.”
Her freshman season showed the growing pains. She started 13 games in 2016, including 11 at catcher, but she only hit .186 in her 43 at-bats. Coming off a high school career where she hit .592 and had her jersey retired, it wasn’t what she was used to.
By her sophomore season, her role had changed. She was primarily a pinch hitter. Edior excelled at it, hitting .526 in 29 games—26 as a pinch hitter.
Last year, she got the call at designated player 15 times, in what was an unsettled position for the team. Her numbers weren’t quite as good as her sophomore year, but she saw more time in the batter’s box.
Her senior season started out slow as well. She only got one hit over her first nine games. But as the year has progressed, she has increased her production.
Since early March, Edior has raised her batting average by 233 points. She has only gone hitless in three of her 11 appearances since March 5. Thirteen of her 14 hits and four of her six walks have come since the Wildcats’ double-header against New Mexico State.
Whether she’s called on to face that pitcher who loves to throw the inside pitch or to support her teammates, Edior has grown into the kind of player that Candrea praises. One who is ready when she’s called on and knows how to fill the role her team needs.
“I’m just really pleased the way she’s stayed engaged, stayed positive, has been a contributor any way that she can,” Candrea said. “You always worry with seniors that aren’t getting a lot of playing time that they may get disengaged, but what I can say about this group is they have not done that. And I think Hill continued to do the things that she needed to do every day to be prepared for a start, be prepared to be a pinch hitter, whatever it may be, and it paid off for her. And, so, I commend her. As a coach, that’s what you would want all of your players to be when they’re in particular roles. I wasn’t surprised that she had success, because she’s been preparing very well.”