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Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza’s sixth season starts with Pac-12 Player of the Week award

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

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza’s sixth season is off to a strong start as the centerfielder was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Tuesday after helping Arizona softball go 5-0 at the Hillenbrand Invitational.

The powerful leadoff hitter went 8 for 12 with two homers, four RBI, five walks and 11 runs scored. She blasted a clutch two-run homer against New Mexico on Friday that gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead in the fifth after they had fallen behind.

“I just kind of went out there and just stayed calm, kept telling myself to keep it simple,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “And I think that was just important to kind of go in and not be too jittery or to have my emotions be too high.”

Even Palomino-Cardoza, who joined the program all the way back in 2016, admitted she was a little nervous for Friday’s season opener, Arizona’s first game since last March.

“It definitely feels good to be back out here. We’ve missed it,” she said. “We’re excited that there’s other teams in the dugout and not just ourselves. I think we just had to get out some pregame jitters. And I think that this team is still going to keep going strong and I think we have a really good team and we’re just going to keep going after it.”

Entering this season, APC was a career .356 hitter with 61 homers and has never committed an error in center field.

The 2020 season being cancelled was just the latest setback in a career that has been full of obstacles. APC missed her true freshman season with a torn ACL, then missed the postseason of her redshirt freshman year with an ACL tear in the other knee.

Because of her age and injuries, she refers to her sixth year as her “great grandma” year with Arizona softball.

“A lot of people have asked why (I came back) because of [my] body, and I’ve talked to other people who are in my position with knee injuries and it is hard,” she said this offseason. “There’s a lot of pain and mental stuff that goes into it but I started something in an Arizona uniform and I want to finish it the way I want to, playing four years and finishing four years is the goal.”