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Arizona softball’s entire senior class to return in 2021

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COLLEGE SOFTBALL: MAR 07 Boise State at Arizona
Malia Martinez
Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What was expected is now official.

All six of Arizona softball’s seniors will return for their redshirt senior seasons, the program announced Monday.

This news, plus the addition of the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, makes the Wildcats a national championship contender in 2021.

The six seniors—second baseman Reyna Carranco, shortstop Jessie Harper, center fielder Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, third baseman Malia Martinez, and pitchers Mariah Lopez and Alyssa Denham—are the team’s six best players.

Not included is senior catcher Dejah Mulipola, whose status is unclear. She may miss another season due to her commitment with the U.S. national team now that the Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled for 2021.

Coming off a Women’s College World Series appearance, Arizona was 22-3 in 2020, and the No. 4 team in the country, before the season was canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus. The NCAA granted all spring student-athletes an extra year of eligibility to make up for it.

Athletic director Dave Heeke recently said it will cost the UA $600,000 to bring the seniors back for another season (for all spring sports, not just softball), a price the department is more than willing to pay to give them a chance to settle unfinished business.

“This class has done a tremendous job both on the field and in the classroom and have represented this program and university with high character and tremendous class. I cannot think of a group that is any more deserving of this opportunity to end their careers the right way,” head coach Mike Candrea said in a statement.