Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza has had tough luck with injuries throughout her career, but she was able to avoid catastrophe this time.
The All-American center fielder suffered no structural damage in her right knee and is considered week to week as Arizona softball continues their season Friday at home vs. Utah.
APC tweaked her knee on the final play of Friday’s 4-3 loss at Arizona State, trying to beat out a grounder with the bases loaded. Palomino-Cardoza immediately fell to the dirt after stepping on first base and had to be helped off the field by trainers. She was moving around with a heavy limp the rest of the weekend and sometimes used crutches.
A sixth-year senior, APC tore her right ACL in 2016 and left ACL in 2017, so there was fear that she had suffered another major knee injury.
“My heart just absolutely sunk,” head coach Mike Candrea said Saturday. “I mean, that poor kid’s been through so damn much to play this game. I saw when she lunged at first and then next thing I know she’s on the ground and I go, ‘God.’ She was trying to beat it out. She was doing everything she can and, you know, she’s just got a big heart and bad knees.”
I'm told Arizona players and coaches won't be available for comment after tonight's loss at ASU, so I won't have an update on Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza's injury.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) April 17, 2021
But here's another look at the play. Looks serious but hopefully it's not. pic.twitter.com/dwXvSZppNV
Not only is APC an All-American, she is the heart and soul of the program as its longest-tenured player.
“She still impacts the game in the dugout,” said senior pitcher Alyssa Denham. “I mean, she motivates us, she always gives us positive energy, and I just think that comes from her being here for so long. And it’s not her first injury, so she knows that even though she’s out that we still need her as a team and she’s a big leader.”
Arizona’s next two opponents—Utah and Cal—are among the worst in the Pac-12, so they should be fine without APC in the meantime. The schedule toughens after that as they will head to No. 6 Oregon before hosting No. 2 UCLA to complete the regular season.
APC was hitting .337 with six homers and 29 RBI before getting injured. To compensate, the Wildcats moved Janelle Meoño from left field to center, flipped Bella Dayton from right field to left and inserted Peanut Martinez in right field.
While Martinez had four hits on the weekend, no one can replace Palomino-Cardoza’s powerful presence at the plate.
That there’s a chance she returns this season is amazing news after an otherwise tough weekend in Tempe, where the Wildcats lost all three Pac-12 games to their in-state rival and have fallen out of the top 8 in every major poll as a result.
Mike Candrea on Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza’s injury: “My heart just absolutely sunk. That poor kid has been through so damn much. ... She’s got a big heart but bad knees.” pic.twitter.com/8Giueh9ZNm— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) April 18, 2021
Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza Injury Update:— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) April 20, 2021
We've got great news! There was no structural damage to @lysssscat32's right knee. She is considered week-to-week moving forward while the injury heals.
Thank you for all your positive thoughts and well wishes! pic.twitter.com/406hsduMJR