The Arizona Wildcats softball team has picked two transfers from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, including a promising young pitcher and a first-team All-American outfielder.
The Ragin’ Cajuns fired head coach Michael Lotief last month for the university alleged was “violent, vulgar language and verbal and physical assault, creating a hostile learning and working environment.”
Sophomore pitcher Alyssa Denham announced on social media on Saturday that she would be transferring to Arizona, and slugging senior Aleah Craighton followed her on Monday night. (Another ULL All-American, shortstop D.J. Sanders, will transfer to Oregon.)
I am so excited to announce that I will be playing my senior season at the University of Arizona. Bear Down! ❤️🐻⬇️ pic.twitter.com/vmuB8VQvX4
Denham and Craighton will be eligible in 2018.
Craighton hit .345 last season with 18 home runs and 53 RBIs for Louisiana, which went 47-8 and is a perennial Top 25 program. Craighton, who has played right field and center field in her ULL career, has hit 48 career home runs. She earned second-team All-America honors in 2016.
Craighton could be an important middle-of-the-order bat for an Arizona lineup that loses Katiyana Mauga (the Pac-12 career leader in home runs with 92), as well as fellow second-team All-American Mo Mercado (.396, 10 home runs) and Mandie Perez (.387).
Denham went 15-2 last season with a 2.27 ERA. The 6-foot-2 right-hander struck out 80 in 129 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .205 batting average. Along the way, she shut out No. 4 Alabama and ended up earning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honors.
She joins a staff that is led by new pitching coach Taryne Mowatt, the former Arizona All-American. The Wildcats, who lost ace Danielle O’Toole after last season, return junior Taylor McQuillin, who was backed by freshmen Hannah Bowen and Taylor Gilmore in fall ball. Arizona also added Purdue transfer Gina Snyder (a Sahuaro High graduate) this fall.
Super excited to be an Arizona Wildcat! pic.twitter.com/H7hmi6WfRm