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Ex-Arizona shortstop Jessie Harper named to Clemson softball coaching staff

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. — Arizona graduate assistant Jessie Harper at the 2022 NCAA Women’s College World Series at OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium as Arizona faces Oregon State. June 3, 2022.
Photo by Mike Christy / Arizona Athletics

Eventually, everyone has to leave home. Former Arizona shortstop Jessie Harper has finally reached that time in her softball career. The three-time All-American spent five years playing for the Wildcats from 2017 through 2021 before serving as head coach Caitlin Lowe’s graduate assistant in 2022. Now, she will move on to her first collegiate softball position outside of Tucson.

Harper was named to the Clemson coaching staff by head coach John Rittman on Tuesday afternoon. She will serve as the volunteer assistant coach for the Tigers’ third-year head coach.

Clemson went 42-17 overall last season including 14-10 in the ACC. The Tigers advanced to the championship game in the ACC Tournament where they fell to No. 1 seed Florida State by a score of 8-6.

The Tigers earned the No. 10 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. They won their home regional then fell to Oklahoma State in the Stillwater Super Regional.

Harper was a prolific power hitter for Arizona over her five years in Tucson. She finished her career tied for third in NCAA history for career home runs with 92. That also tied her for first in Arizona history. Her success at the plate led her to All-America honors at two different positions. She played first base as a freshman before shifting back to shortstop for the remaining four years of her career.

Harper was part of the team that broke what was considered a prolonged drought from the Women’s College World Series for a program like Arizona. The Wildcats broke through in 2019, returning to Oklahoma City after an eight-year hiatus. They have been in every WCWS that has been held since then and Harper has been part of all three return trips.

As a player, Harper started in every one of the 273 games held while she was at Arizona over a period when the program went a combined 206-67. The best season was her freshman year in 2017 when the Wildcats finished 52-9 and seeded No. 2 but fell in the Tucson Super Regional.

In Harper’s lone coaching season with the Wildcats, the team went 39-22. After finishing tied for last place in the Pac-12, Arizona went on a spectacular postseason run to make it to its third straight WCWS.

She also brings a strong commitment to the classroom. Harper was an Academic All-American and two-time Academic All-District selection. She was also the 2021 Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year. In 2021, she was a Senior CLASS Award finalist. She was twice honored as a Pac-12 All-Academic

Harper graduated from Arizona in 2020 with a degree in sociology. She returned as a graduate student and completed her master’s degree in educational leadership.