Ole Miss senior starting pitcher Brittany Finney has a background in Tucson, born here on Sept. 23, 1996, and living here until she moved with her father to Wichita, Kan., at 4 years old.
“I was born in Tucson, so it’s kind of weird,” said Finney, who will be the Rebels’ No. 2 pitcher against Arizona this weekend in the Super Regional at Hillenbrand.
“I’ve been to a lot of camps actually at Arizona. It was kind of weird coming back home a little bit.”
The last Mike Candrea Camp she attended was in 2011, when she was 15 and a budding star in high school at Wichita. She finished her career in 2015 as Kansas’ all-time leader in home runs with 38.
In the circle as a senior at Bishop Carroll, she went 14-1 with a 0.30 ERA in 70 innings. She struck out 112 with only eight walks and 20 hits allowed.
“When I walked (into Hillenbrand), it’s obviously a brand new stadium, so I’ve never been here before,” Finney said in a press conference at Hillenbrand on Thursday afternoon. “It’s been, I think I counted eight years since I’ve been here, and so that was weird. When I walked in and I was like, ‘Wow, I remember this place.’
“I remember the campus. I saw some things around the town that I’ve seen before. It was a little eerie at first, kind of like, ‘What am I doing here?’ But I’m ready. I’m so ready for this.”
Finney, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, is 18-9 this season with a 2.67 ERA in 141 2/3 innings. She has 126 strikeouts and 31 walks.
At the plate, she has eight home runs with 34 RBIs, but her average is at .199.
Pitching is where will be most dangerous for No. 6 Arizona (45-12) on Friday and Saturday (and potentially Sunday) for No. 11 Ole Miss (41-19) in the Super Regional. Game time on Friday is 4 p.m. and on Saturday it is 5 p.m.
She has the background of pitching under former Ole Miss pitching coach Taryne Mowatt, the Arizona All-American who is now on Candrea’s staff.
In her one season with Mowatt in 2017 — after she transferred from Oklahoma — Finney was 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. She had 33 strikeouts and 16 walks.
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“Coach T is a great coach,” Finney said. “She is incredible. She knows so much about the game. She was able to help me develop into really a great pitcher.
“So it’s a little bit different coming here and having to play against her. It was something after she left we were all heartbroken. She loved us a lot.”
Mowatt told Ryan Kilapire of Arizona Desert Swarm that the familiarity she has with Finney can be to Arizona’s advantage, although Finney said Ole Miss can benefit from knowing Mowatt’s coaching style.
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Mowatt did not coach Ole Miss ace Molly Jacobsen. She arrived in Oxford, Miss., from junior college last year after Mowatt left.
“I coached some of them, obviously. Not (ace) Molly Jacobsen, but I coached Finney and the other younger ones, and I recruited their freshman pitcher (Savannah Diederich), so I got to work with them, I kind of know what pitches they throw, I know what their strengths are, I know what some of their weaknesses are,” Mowatt told Kelapire. “Granted, that could have changed in the last year, but I feel very comfortable going into the series knowing what I know.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.