TUCSON, Ariz. - Almost a year to the date, Arizona Willdcats' Alyssa Palomino suffered a torn ACL, in which she would have to miss the entire post season for Arizona softball last year. This time around, Palomino will play in the NCAA tournament for the first time and has a chance to help her team advance to the women's college world series.
The images were heartbreaking, and gut wrenching. The heavy favorites to win it all, Arizona softball didn't even advance out of the Tucson super regional against Baylor. But in the Cats’ defense, they lost one of their best players, just days before the tournament even began.
“Me and Bruce, our trainer, have been joking all week like I have to get through yesterday which I did and now we have to get through today,” said Palomino at the teams press conference ahead of tomorrow’s regional against Saint Francis.
Palomino suffered a torn ACL on the first day of practice her freshman year, missing the entire season. And a second one, on the other knee, the day before last year’s Tucson regional.
“Well I’m just happy I got her through practice, you know, and knock on wood, we'll get her through today’” joked head coach Mike Candrea. “But yea I felt so bad for her, and I know how badly she wants to participate and I think right now she's looking great and very excited. And if I was her I’d be really excited too.”
Ace pitcher, Taylor McQuillin, is excited to have her teammate behind her in the infield when it really counts. The two have played together since age 12.
“I think that it's only made her stronger. I think that she's matured more from it and I think that our team, as a whole, and me in general are really excited to have her back,” said McQuillin.
“I’m just excited to be a part of it and help this team win.”
Arizona will play Saint Francis on Friday at 8:30pm on ESPN3.