Carlie Scupin says she has been going to Arizona Wildcats softball games since “I was old enough to walk.”
Four years from now, Scupin will be doing a lot more than just watching and walking at Hillenbrand Stadium.
She figures to be hitting, pitching, running — doing anything and everything — because as a 14-year-old who has yet to play a game of high school softball, Carlie Scupin has given Arizona coach Mike Candrea a commitment to be a Wildcat.
Candrea offered a scholarship to Scupin late last week when she was on an unofficial visit.
Scupin, who will be in the graduating class of 2020, didn’t need much time to think about it. She and her family said yes the very same day.
“Well, the U of A has always been my dream school,” Scupin told AllSportsTucson.com. “I grew up watching U of A softball, going to all their games. It’s like a no-brainer. I knew if they were to offer, then it would be like, ‘That’s my school.'”
Scupin, a freshman at Tucson High, already is about 6-feet tall, a left-handed pitcher and power-hitting first baseman. She plays for the powerhouse Oro Valley Suncats club team.
“She’s as good as anyone in the state as a freshman,” said Suncats coach Todd Judge.
“She hits for average but has lots of power to the opposite field. She’s a big kid, athletic, runs well. Great fielder at first base. She can definitely pitch at the Division I level. She has four pitches for strikes and is a very crafty lefty.”
Scupin’s private pitching coach is former Arizona All-American Alicia Hollowell, who pitched the Wildcats to the 2006 national title. If you want to feel old, just know that Scupin says she is really too young to remember Hollowell as a player.
Scupin’s favorite UA players include outfielders Brittany Lastrapes and Hallie Wilson, who also coaches with the Suncats organization.
“I have always enjoyed softball,” Scupin said.
“When I first started, I was like 5, and I played baseball for two years. Once I joined softball, I just kept playing and I knew it was my favorite, because I had also played other sports.”
Scupin will compete this summer for the Suncats 16U team at the Premier Girls Fastpitch Nationals, where the team already has a coveted invitation to the 64-team event. She sometimes plays further up with the organization’s 18U Gold squad, also invited to the PGF Nationals.
Judge said Scupin could “100 percent” start for his 18U squad, but he doesn’t want his 16U team right now to suffer too much from her absence.
“I sometimes will play at 18U just to get experience and watch the older girls,” she said.
If having a 14-year-old commit before her freshman season of high school sounds strange, you haven’t been paying attention to college softball recruiting these days. It’s the way of the world. The recruiting calendar has sped up in the past decade or so.
College coaches have to offer early to beat the competition, and club/high school coaches have to encourage their prospects to make quicker decisions, or else their players might miss out on big opportunities.
Scupin is not the exception. She is the rule.
Get this: Scupin is Arizona’s SIXTH reported commitment for its 2020 class.
Others are Giulia Koutsoyanopulos from Mission Viejo, Calif.; Jessie Fontes from Fillmore, Calif.; twins Aris and Sophia Carroll, who play for the Mizuno Storm club team out of Phoenix; and Jasmine Perezchica with the SoCal Athletics club team.
The trade-off for a college securing such an early commitment is not knowing how the player will develop or if motivation will remain high.
“I know there is still a lot of work to be done,” Scupin said of her early commitment.
Scupin has teammates to help show her the way. The Suncats have two Class of 2018 players who also committed very early to Arizona — pitcher/outfielder Marissa Schuld from Phoenix Pinnacle High and catcher Isabel Pacho from Ironwood Ridge High School.
“I have a lot of people to look up to,” Scupin said.
“The older players on my team who have been committed really emphasized to me that this is just the first step, not the last step. It’s good to see those people. Their work ethic stays the same, no matter how young they were when they committed.”
Scupin said she has been to a couple of Arizona softball camps, and last week’s unofficial visit was her second to the school. Candrea, obviously, thought the time was right to extend the scholarship offer. Her development in high school and in travel ball should be fascinating to watch.
“Something clicked for her this fall,” Judge said of Scupin’s on-field performance. “She’s as good as I’ve seen.”