Lauren Lappin has been on Arizona softball’s coaching staff for a month now. She’s been on a few recruiting trips, met with her new players, and slowly gotten settled into her McKale Center office.
“If you were to see beyond my screen, you would see Taryne (Mowatt-McKinney) transitioning out, me coming in,” Lappin told Eric Lopez of the In The Circle podcast.* “A whole lot of chaos, but it’s been great.”
Lappin, 36, was hired by new UA head coach Caitlin Lowe back in June, reuniting her with her former U.S. Olympic and USSSA Pride teammate. The two actually knew each other well before then.
“I could show you some funny pictures of when we were both peanuts playing travel ball against each other,” said Lappin, who like Lowe is from Southern California. “So we probably played against each other from like age 10 through college.”
When Lowe was a four-time All-American at Arizona, Lappin was an All-American catcher and shortstop at Stanford. Lappin said returning to the Pac-12 “feels like a homecoming.”
“It’s funny because I used to have ultimate respect for the (Arizona) program, but also kind of like a chip on my shoulder,” Lappin said. “You always wanted to beat Arizona, but now...it feels awesome to be on this side of it.”
Lappin had been an assistant coach at the University of Missouri-St. Louis softball for five seasons before joining Lowe’s staff. Lappin appreciated the work-life balance that came with working at a mid-major but said the chance to work under Lowe was “a no-brainer.”
Lappin said the two have talked about coaching together for years, and that this arrangement materialized pretty quickly once it was clear that Mike Candrea was going to retire after the 2021 season and the Wildcats were going to have an assistant coaching vacancy to fill.
Lowe has the weight of the world on her shoulders as the successor to a Hall of Fame coach, but Lappin saw Lowe’s coaching qualities up close when they were teammates and has no doubt that she’s the right person to lead the program into the future.
“The biggest thing is that she’s just a great human who has a really good understanding of what this is about,” Lappin said. “So while she’s an ultimate competitor and winner, and she always is going to try to win, that will never out shine her commitment to the student athlete experience and how important and transitional this period of time is in young women’s lives.”
“What I’ve said to a lot of people is just that he (Candrea) would never have turned this program over to someone he didn’t believe in really carrying on the tradition, but also making it their own as well. And he has ultimate faith in her and so that I think would give anyone faith to just jump on board with her leadership.”
Lappin will work with Arizona’s infielders and catchers. She believes her ability to coach a defense will mesh well with what Lowe and Mowatt-McKinney already bring to the table. So, too, should their personalities.
“Caitlin is super focused. She’s really, really funny, but she is just like, ‘let’s go’, determined, driven, organized,” Lappin said. “Taryne’s like undercover funny, a little bit more aloof, so I think I’m kind of dead split of both of them.”
“I would say my style is that I’m a student of the game. I just love the game. I’m super passionate about it. And I think that if you walk up to a practice that I’m involved with, you’re gonna see that immediately that I just have a great passion for the game and I’m pretty high energy, probably borderline obnoxious.”
The Wildcats’ roster will be much younger in 2022 than it was in 2021, but Lappin described the talent level as “incredible.” She’s excited to see what the final product will look like come next spring.
“I think we’ll be able to connect with our entire roster in different ways and pull different things out of our players,” Lappin said. “To get a little bit of new blood in here I think will be cool, and it’ll be fun to bounce things off these walls and see what happens.”
*All quotes transcribed from the In The Circle podcast, which you can watch here: