Pima College’s top returning pitcher Bianca Castillo knows she will attend a university that is far from home, but she says the necessary experience will far outweigh how comfortable she feels.
Castillo, a sophomore who graduated from Rio Rico High School, signed on Wednesday a letter of intent to attend William Penn University — a private institution at Oskaloosa, Iowa.
“It is far from home. It is going to be hard,” Castillo acknowledges. “But the way it is set up for student-athletes over there is something I looked into more. … Different is good. I like that ‘different’ over there.”
Pima coach Rebekah Quiroz organized a signing ceremony on campus in which Castillo’s family, friends, teammates and coaches celebrated Castillo’s achievement of earning a scholarship at a four-year school playing the sport she loves.
“I’ve stressed. I’ve cried. I’ve sweated. It’s just a big relief knowing I will play at the next level,” Castillo said. “It’s something I’m proud of. It’s something I can pay back to my parents as well, not just them but everybody who has supported me and believed in me.”
Castillo topped Pima last season with 139 2/3 innings pitched with 83 strikeouts, 46 walks and an ERA of 4.91. She finished 11-11 with one save.
Former @RR_Athletics softball player, now dominant @PimaAthletics pitcher Bianca Castillo signs national letter of intent with William Penn. Aztecs pitching coach Nicki Johnson sitting by her & head coach Rebekah Quiroz commenting in packed room with family, friends & teammates. pic.twitter.com/95fZtyO6sA
She indicated her work in the circle not only at Rio Rico and Pima, but also playing for former Arizona standout Laura Espinoza with the AZ Thundercats, has put her in this position. How many players can say they played for three former Arizona players who were coached by Mike Candrea?
Quiroz and assistant coach Jennifer Martinez played for the Wildcats.
Her direct coaching is from Pima pitching coach Nicki Johnson, who accompanied her at the ceremony Wednesday. Johnson is one of the best high school pitchers from Tucson, starring at Sahuaro and then Pima before excelling at Memphis. She was part of Pima’s 2004 NJCAA national championship team. She won 57 games in her two years with the program.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Castillo said. “I’ve learned so many different techniques and I’ve been successful because of them.”
Johnson mentioned they did not see eye to eye when Castillo first attended Pima, but she is now “appreciative of all the hard work she has done for our team. She’s been our workhorse.”
Castillo will study criminal justice at William Penn with the goal of becoming a custom border agent.
Pima begins its season Feb. 4 at home with a doubleheader against Yavapai College.
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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.