Most of the 2020 softball recruiting class committed to Arizona early on during their eighth-grade year, except for Devyn Netz, who still has a long-standing bond with the school.
Although she committed to Mike Candrea’s program in her junior season in high school at Pasadena, Calif., Arizona has always been a part of the Netz family.
Netz’s older brother Dawson just completed his freshman season at Arizona with the baseball team. Her father Daniel also went to Arizona back in his college days.
This past high school season, Netz played as a senior at Ironwood Ridge along with future Wildcat teammate Allie Skaggs.
Netz collected one win with a 0.75 ERA in 57 innings in which she struck out an impressive 41 batters in the 10-game canceled season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s a Q&A from an interview about Netz’s senior season and what is ahead for her at Arizona.
What was going through your head when you got the news that the season was canceled?
DN: “I mean, it all started with school. I thought maybe it was going to be a quick two weeks and it was gonna be over and we’d get right back into things almost as if nothing even happened. But things kept on happening and it was like a bowling ball it just kept going and it ruined our season. It really sucks, that’s for sure. Because our team was really good and all of our girls were very excited. So for us to lose a season like that, was a real bummer. I probably cried a good day, if not more definitely a good week and to me, I still can’t believe that my season is over. It’s awful, but it happens and you know what? This is just a better way to learn that you really can’t take the little things for granted.”
Even though the season was shortened, what did you learn about yourself or about your team?
DN: “I think the biggest thing I learned was how to be a leader. Not just like a silent leader, but vocal leader because a lot of the younger girls looked up to our senior class. I think that’s a big thing that Coach (Dave) Martinez played into our role as seniors is how to be leaders and how to lead the younger girls because we had a good team with lots of potential. So I think he left it up to us to be really good leaders. Overall, I think I learned, and it’s kind of a cliché — I learned that play every game like it’s your last. So, for me, during the time we played our last game, we’re like if our season gets canceled, I gave my catcher a hug, and said, ‘If this is our last bullpen before a game and last game I just want to give you a hug just in case.’ We both started laughing but it really was and that definitely put a damper on things. However, I think that’s one thing I learned from this season.”
How far do you think your team could’ve gone?
DN: “Oh, like no doubt I think we could’ve gone all the way. We were a very fast team. I think we had so much depth on the bench and we had so much depth on the field. I think you could literally pick anyone on our team and tell them to go in and they would fill in perfectly. Our team was stacked and I’m honestly really proud of our girls and what we accomplished this year.”
How good of a relationship did you guys (Skaggs) develop at Ironwood Ridge?
DN: “We have a pretty close bond. We always pulled up together at school and we walked in together and walked out. We always do things together. There literally wasn’t a day that we weren’t together throughout the school year. Right now being in quarantine it’s kind of hard not being with people because I’m such a social person. I love working out with my teammates and Allie was one of the people I worked out with a lot. We always would hit together. We would take ground balls together. It’s hard because we bounce ideas off of each other and just make each other better.”
What’s one word to describe yourself as a softball player?
DN: “I’m very competitive. That’s just the person I am and I think I got that from my brothers. We would always play Wiffleball or play pickleball out front and I think that’s where my competitiveness comes from because I kind of had to learn how to fend for myself.”
How much does it help having an older sibling going through his first year at the university right before you go there, so you know what to expect?
DN: “I think it’s kind of fun. I mean, on my official (visit) it was kind of fun seeing him around campus, you know, because I’m like, oh, there’s a baseball team. There’s my brother and I’m with the girls. It’s really funny because they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re Dawson’s sister.’ So it’s really funny that the girls on this team know who he is. They kind of related us together. He’s just kind of paved the way. He’s testing the waters a little bit and he taught me how it is. I really can’t wait for my experience down there. I think it’s going to be a blast.”
Who are some softball players that you grew up watching to help spark your interest in the sport?
DN: “I would probably say (former Florida standout) Lauren Haeger. I really like her. She’s one of those players where she’s a power pitcher. She’s really good but she is also a power hitter and she can knock the ball out of the park. I think that’s the one player I aspire to be as good as someone like her.”
How would you describe the recruiting class your coming in with?
DN: “We’re very competitive. We are gamers for sure. I think we kind of have a humble leadership attitude about us. We just love to get after it, that’s for sure. Every time we play against each other in travel ball, it’s a dogfight for sure. It’s really fun because those are the games that you want to win. It’s fun to come out on top.”
Did you ever think that you would get the opportunity to play with the seven seniors coming back?
DN: “No, I never thought I would be playing with them but I can’t wait because one of the seniors I’m really close with her and I talk to her all the time, and that person is Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza. That’s probably one of the girls I’m closest with in that senior class. I just can’t wait to learn a lot from them because they have so much experience, not only at the collegiate level, but also in the World Series. That’s where I want to go, and that’s what I want to win is a World Series and bring it back to Arizona and keep that tradition rolling.”
What was it about Coach Mike Candrea that made you want to come to Arizona?
DN: “The thing foe me, when I met him he was almost like a father figure, you know. And when I stepped on the campus, I was like, ‘Whoa, what is this feeling?’ It felt like home. Then when I met the coaching staff it was almost as if I knew them all along. It almost felt like he’s the father figure. I know that he wants to best for me, not only in softball but in life.”
Have you thought about that moment when you step on Rita Hillenbrand’s field and go in the circle and see 3,000-plus fans watching you play? What do you think that moment is going to be like?
DN: “It’s probably going to be eye-opening a little bit like, whoa, this is my new home, you know? It’s gonna be really fun to just get my cleats in there, dig in, get some games and just compete. It’s almost like goosebumps thinking about that moment where it’s like whoa, is this really happening? Or pinch me I must be dreaming. It’s going to be really fun, I can’t wait to get some work in there.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.