Taryne Mowatt can’t help but get a little nostalgic. Arizona will play Tennessee in the Women’s College World Series on Thursday, the same matchup that led to her greatest glory.
While the teams will meet in Oklahoma City, Mowatt will be watching from Akron, Ohio, where she is preparing for Wednesday’s season-opener with the Akron Racers of the National Pro Fastpitch League.
Flashback to 2007, when Mowatt turned in one of the greatest performances ever at the College World Series, one of the most remarkable efforts in Arizona history. She threw 60 innings — 1,035 pitches — over a seven-game span, leading the Wildcats to the national championship over the favored Volunteers, who featured NCAA strikeout queen Monica Abbott.
That propelled her to two ESPY Awards, including one for best female athlete.
“2007 was obviously a great year for myself personally, but it was a great year for Arizona softball in the sense that when we won, it was a total team effort,” Mowatt said Wednesday. “I don’t think we could have scripted a better ending to that year. We had each other’s back that whole time.
“That year showed the Arizona fans what an Arizona team can be made of, how we can come together as one. Everybody had a big role at some point. I think it kind of intrigued Arizona fans that this is really cool.”
Tennessee beat Arizona in the second round of the 2007 Series, but the Wildcats battled back through the losers’ bracket to reach the best-of-three championship series. The Vols won Game 1, 1-0.
Then, Mowatt, using her change-up to great effect, helped lead Arizona to a 1-0 victory in 10 innings … and, finally, a 5-0 win in the final game.
Lauren Schutzler, now a junior center fielder for the Wildcats, was a very interested observer that week. She had signed with Arizona, and her sister, Lindsey, was a senior star for the Vols.
Asked this week about what she remembered most about the Series, she said, “The Taryne Mowatt change-up. It was kind of killer for the Tennessee fans, sitting over there watching it.”
It was killer for the Tennessee batters, too. And Mowatt found out later exactly why.
Lindsey Schutzler told Mowatt later that the Tennessee batters were simply not looking to swing at the change-up until there was a two-strike count.
“I don’t think I could have been paired up with a better team for that pitch, although I didn’t know it at the time,” Mowatt said.
“Talking to Lindsey later, their philosophy was to not look for the change until two strikes. In the SEC, they didn’t throw a lot of change-ups. It was a power conference. Power pitching. Power hitting.
“Lucky for me, the change was working. I would throw it in any count, and I could throw it at any time for strikes.”
That championship game victory was the last time Arizona won a game at the College World Series. The Wildcats have been swept in each of the past two years.
Mowatt and her former UA teammates will be closely watching. During regional and super regional action, they exchanged messages and updates via Twitter.
“We’re always getting together somewhere,” Mowatt said, “and we find a way to talk and cheer on our team.”