Sometimes social media sleuthing can be effective. During the last week of May, rumors began circulating among Arizona softball fans and on softball message boards that the Wildcats were set to hire Loyola Marymount pitching coach Christian Conrad to replace Taryne Mowatt-McKinney. With the rumors based entirely on social media follows, it wasn’t the strongest evidence. However, on Tuesday evening, D1 Softball reported that it was a done deal according to its sources.
Conrad started his path in college softball at Oregon as an undergraduate assistant under both Mike White and Melyssa Lombardi. His first official coaching position came at Florida State as the volunteer assistant. Under FSU head coach Lonni Alameda, Conrad worked to help develop pitchers and coached first base.
Conrad was hired by Tairia Flowers when she took over at LMU in preparation for the 2020-21 season. He also has experience working with USA Softball as the batting practice coach for the 2019 U19 team and as a facilitator in Athletes Unlimited.
While at LMU, Conrad coached the back-to-back WCC Pitcher of the Year Jenna Perez. Perez transferred to the Lions after starting just two games and making 14 total appearances her freshman season at UNLV. She had a 4.62 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched for the Rebels.
The LMU staff had an ERA of 2.97 last season with Perez leading the way at 2.27. Three of the Lions’ six pitchers had ERAs under three. The year before Conrad arrived, the team had a staff ERA of 5.73. It dropped dramatically both of his first two years on staff before rising slightly from 2.63 in 2022 to 2.97 in 2023.
D1 Softball reported that when Conrad was at FSU, he learned Alameda’s philosophy which relies on relief pitching much more than was traditional in softball. Complete games became less common as coaches and pitchers worked together to find out “how can you play off the other people in our bullpen to win softball games,” according to Conrad. That was a tactic that Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe used out of necessity this year, often relieving her starter after once or twice through the order.
Arizona has yet to announce the hire.