Carlie Scupin’s grandfather Chuck Davis mentioned that since Carlie was old enough to play T-ball, she had the urge to be on the diamond. It didn’t matter it was playing with boys. In fact, those boys took a backseat to her potential.
“I remember taking her to Arizona softball games when she was really young, and she pointed out to the field and said, ‘I want to play that,'” said Davis, who has been a season-ticket holder with his wife Judi at Arizona since 2005, when Carlie was 3.
“She started out playing T-ball with the boys and right from the start, she would hit the ball longer than the boys. The boys were like, ‘I have to try to do that.'”
Now a senior at Tucson High School — four years removed from first verbally committing to Mike Candrea’s program — Carlie made becoming a Wildcat a reality today on national signing day.
She can play that. And how.
Scupin, a towering presence at first base at 6-feet, has belted 41 home runs in her three years at Tucson High School. Last season, she batted .683 with 17 home runs and 41 RBIs for the Badgers. That performance earned her the prestigious Gatorade Player of the Year Award in Arizona.
Can’t believe Tucson High standout first baseman @carliescupin is a senior. We’ve covered her since before she was a freshman. She comments on signing with her dream program, @ArizonaSoftball, today and the chance to play for legendary coach Mike Candrea. pic.twitter.com/PXA5h4NECM
Candrea said today during his press conference, announcing the No. 1-rated recruiting class in the nation, that Scupin is “kind of a physical freak.”
“She has great strength,” he said. “We do a lot of bat speeds with players for a lot of years and she, believe it or not, has the top bat speed that I’ve ever seen other than (former U.S. Olympian) Crystl Bustos. That itself is something that you can’t teach.
“Carlie is a great student of the game. She works really hard at her skills. I think she’s very coachable.”
.@ArizonaSoftball veteran coach @CoachCandreaUA says Tucson High standout first baseman Carlie Scupin, who is part of his No. 1 class that signed today, has “the top bat speed I’ve ever seen other than (former Olympian) Crystl Bustos.” pic.twitter.com/CDzbfJ70ox
Scupin is an extreme example of the kind of talent that Tucson can produce in softball. The city has become rich in player development with the popularity of club teams in addition to the high school programs upgrading their effort to get the most out of a player’s potential, according to Candrea.
“The talent in the Tucson area continues to get better,” said Candrea, who has coached at Arizona since 1986. “I think a lot of it is the coaching we have in the area now. There are more people who understand the game. They know how to teach the skills.
“And they are willing to spend the time that it takes to develop the players. That has been a great asset for the high schools and the talent level in Tucson.”
I asked @ArizonaSoftball @CoachCandreaUA about talent level locally signing Carlie Scupin of THS & Devyn Netz & Allie Skaggs of Ironwood Ridge (Netz & Skaggs moved here). Candrea sees marked improvement, credits HS coaches for putting in time & effort to make it happen. pic.twitter.com/ozQkL9JozC
Some of the talent has moved to Tucson recently, including Ironwood Ridge standouts Devyn Netz (a pitcher/infielder from Sierra Madre, Calif.) and Arlie Skaggs (an utility player from Louisville, Ky.).
Netz’s brother Dawson plays for Arizona’s baseball team, which Candrea admits may have land Devyn in the recruiting process.
Scupin, Netz and Skaggs are part of the recruiting class that also includes infielders Aris Carroll and twin sister Sophia Carroll, of Phoenix Shadow Ridge, pitcher Jessie Fontes of Fillmore (Calif.) Camarillo High School, utility player Giulia Koutsoyanopulos of Mission Viejo (Calif.) Capistrano Valley High School, and outfielder Jasmine Perezchica of La Quinta (Calif.) Palm Desert High School.
Arizona Signs Nation’s Top Recruiting Class
Perezchica’s dad, Tony Perezchica, is the third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Koutsoyanopulos was recently named to the Italian junior national softball team.
Here’s a look at the 8 players that comprise @ArizonaSoftball‘s No. 1 ranked recruiting class, including…
“They’re all very committed to the game, very committed to the classroom, they’re all good students, but the thing we looked at was how competitive they were and what kind of teammate would they be when they got here,” Candrea said.
Candrea added that he and his staff are “not only trying to get great athletes, but getting great athletes that fit our needs as far as what type of kid we’re looking forward to represent this program, and I think this class will do a really nice job of that.”
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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.