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Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza returns to starting lineup as Arizona softball hosts Utah

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

When Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza suffered a right knee injury at ASU, there were fears that her season was over. It turns out it was only a very temporary setback.

APC is starting in center field and batting sixth for the Wildcats on Friday as they begin a four-series against last-place Utah. That means her knee injury only kept her out of three games.

Wearing a pair of knee braces under her uniform, Palomino-Cardoza went through pregame warmups without a hitch. Getting her back is a big boost to an Arizona team that just dropped three of four against the Sun Devils and is looking to hit its stride as the postseason nears.

Whether it’s APC or fellow All-American Reyna Carranco, the Wildcats haven’t been healthy during the Pac-12 season. Carranco missed the first three series and APC missed all but one game of the fourth.

APC has a long history of injuries, tearing her right ACL in 2016 and her left in 2017.

“She’s got such a big heart and such a good player but has just really had a tough time and has had to battle through some really crucial injuries that can sometimes change the way you can play the game,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “She just continues to do the body of work she needs to come back and I’m happy for her that this wasn’t an ending. ... I don’t think I’ve ever had an athlete go through as much as she has to be able to be on the softball field and she’s got a definitely a place in my heart for the rest of my life because there’s not many athletes that have gone through what she has to represent this university and this athletic program.”

Palomino-Cardoza was hitting .337 with six homers and 29 RBI before suffering the injury.