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Arizona softball adds former Princeton pitcher Ali Blanchard

arizona-wildcats-softball-ali-ashner-phoenix-college-return Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Arizona softball is in desperate need of pitching. After super senior Hanah Bowen exhausted her eligibility and both Jessie Fontes and Madi Elish transferred, the Wildcats were facing going into the season with just two pitchers on the staff. Now, there will be at least three as the program announced the addition of Princeton transfer Ali Blanchard on Thursday.

The Rhode Island native will be making a major move across the country, but she brings accolades from the Ivy League with her. Blanchard was a first-team All-Ivy League performer last season and a second-team honoree as a freshman in 2019. She had an ERA of 2.78 in 24 appearances last year.

Blanchard helped the Tigers reach the NCAA postseason with her play in the circle and at the plate in the Ivy League's playoff series between Princeton and Harvard.

After dropping the first game of the series in 10 innings, Princeton came back to take the final two games. She got the win in the circle in game two, giving up six hits and four earned runs while striking out seven. She also went 2 for 4 at the plate.

Blanchard was critical to the Tigers clinching the series. She drove in three runs in the final game, helping Princeton to a 6-1 victory. She was 2 for 3 at the plate as the designated player.

In 110.2 innings pitched, Blanchard struck out 155 batters in 2022. She was the first Princeton pitcher since 2008 to have at least 150 strikeouts. She struck out at least 10 in five of her appearances and had a season-high 12 strikeouts against Cornell. Her 9.8 strikeouts per seven innings were the fourth-best in the Tigers’ history and the best since 2006.

Blanchard also served as a utility player for the Tigers and had a .289 batting average. She had 26 hits in 90 at-bats, scoring six runs and accounting for 14 RBI. She had three doubles, one triple, and one home run for a .378 slugging percentage.

Blanchard played for Princeton for three years but took 2021 off. Over her career with the Tigers, she had a 3.78 ERA in 181 innings pitched. She struck out 235 batters while walking 106. She gave up just nine home runs to the 788 batters she faced.

At the plate, Blanchard hit .248 in 61 games. She had a .338 slugging percentage and a .288 on-base percentage.

Blanchard will join junior Devyn Netz and freshman Sydney Somerndike on the Wildcats’ staff. Arizona now has 14 players on next season’s roster and still needs depth in the outfield, at catcher, and in the circle.