Softball | General | 11/19/2021

Softball Signing Day Highlights: Pac 12

Jerry Miller     
Photo: Perfect Game
The gold standard for success across the country starts on the West Coast. The data tells the story. The numbers, 105 and 25, are rather benign and meaningless. When put into context concerning the success of PAC 12 softball, those two numbers speak volumes. Collectively, PAC 12 softball programs have made 105 trips to the Women’s College World Series. That’s Oklahoma City. The BIG Show! Every team in the conference has made at least one trip to OKC. If that fact wasn’t impressive enough, the PAC 12 conference holds 25 softball national championships. The UCLA Bruins set the pace with 13 gold trophies, followed by Arizona with eight. Arizona State has captured two championships, while Washington and Cal have one each. Although Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, and Florida State have been in the mix as of late, the overall domination of the PAC 12, especially on the national stage, dwarfs all of the other conferences combined. If the 2021-22 signings are any indication, the PAC 12 will continue to be a noticeable force.
Legendary Hall of Famer Mike Candrea, after an other-worldly 40 year softball coaching career, has stepped aside as the Head Coach at UA. For the past 35 years, Coach Candrea has turned Rita Hildebrand Memorial Stadium into one of the crown jewels of all of college softball. His mark is all over the success and popularity of fastpitch in Tucson and across the country. Bum Phillips once said about Earl Campbell, “He is not in a class by himself, but it doesn’t take long to call role.” The same quote applies to Mike Candrea. Moving up from the lead assistant’s position to take over the HC job is long time Wildcat Caitlin Lowe-Nagy. Lowe-Nagy was a four-time all-American at Arizona, where she led the Cats to back-to-back WCWS Championships in 2006 and 2007. Coach Lowe-Nagy was also a multi-medal winning national team member during her playing career. She has been an integral part of the Arizona staff since 2014. She is unquestionably qualified and ready for the honor and responsibility of carrying the mantle of “Head Coach” for one of the country’s most highly successful programs. If her first recruiting class is any indication, the Wildcats will continue to be among the most elite in the nation.
Taylor Biehl – INF – Folsom, Calif.
Logan Cole – INF – Marana, Ariz.
Olivia Dinardo – C – San Mateo, Calif.
Dakota Kennedy – OF – Sacramento, Calif.
Sydney Somerndike – P – Villa Park, Calif.
 Arizona State
Tempe, Ariz. and Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium have been the scene of championship level softball for a number of years. Head coach Trisha Ford, in her sixth year at the helm, has put her mark on the Sun Devils program, keeping ASU in the upper echelon of the conference. In their history, the Devils have made 31 trips to the NCAA Regional Tournament, and with the recent additions of a very gifted four-player recruiting class, Arizona State looks primed, once again, to compete with the very best in the conference and the country.
Kylee Magee – P – Anaheim, Calif.
Gracyn Coleman – C – Hanford, Calif.
Riley Valentine – C – Phoenix, Calif.
Kalyn McCarthy – OF – Palatine, Ill.
Having starred for legendary Cal coach Diane Ninemire, current Golden Bear skipper Chelsea Spencer, a standout shortstop and 2002 national champion, is well aware of the tradition and expectations associated with softball on the Berkeley campus. Before returning to coach at her alma mater, the Golden Bear leader was an assistant with three of the country’s top programs in Michigan State, Oregon, and Texas. She was more than ready to take over the Cal program when her mentor retired. UC has made 27 straight trips to the NCAA tournament. The list of accolades associated with Cal softball rival most in the country. Competing head-to-head for so many years against top competition, especially the gauntlet that is PAC 12 play, the Bears have certainly earned their respect. With Coach Spencer’s solid and very talented 2021-22 signing class, the excitement at Levine-Fricke Field will again be palpable.
Tianna Bell – INF – Antioch, Calif.
Elon Butler – INF – San Jose, Calif.
D’Auna Johnson – UT – Mather, Calif.
Ashanti McDade – P – Denton, Texas
With 20 trips to the NCAA tournament and five PAC 12 championships under its belt, the Oregon Ducks are certainly used to success. Having played for and served as a top assistant under Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso, current Ducks leader Melyssa Lombardi, now in her fourth year at Oregon, has brought a championship mentality to Eugene. Oregon has the look of a champion this year, and for years to come, and although they only signed one player this November, that player is one of the very best in the country and will only add to the otherwise elite Oregon roster.
Remmington Hewitt – UT – Pleasant Grove, Calif.
Oregon State
Veteran Oregon State head coach Laura Berg, now in her 10th year, has built a consistent winner in Corvallis. The Fresno State grad and Santa Fe Springs, Calif. native had a storied playing career at FSU. She brought her gritty and tough-minded playing style to OSU and seemingly always has the Beavers in the mix for the PAC 12 championship. The Beavers look to return to the NCAAs next spring and with the highly-talented five-player recruiting class arriving next fall, the Beavers appear to be on the verge of being a part of the national landscape.
Morgan Howey – OF – Antioch, Calif.
Kaiea Higa – INF – Maple Valley, Wash.
Jenna Birch – INF – Loomis, Calif.
Shaylen McDowell – UT – Roseville, Calif.
Sydney Saenz – UT – El Paso, Texas
Returning to her alma mater in 2018 after seven highly successful seasons at the helm of Minnesota, head coach Jessica Allister has the Cardinal primed to impact not only the PAC 12, but nationally, for years to come. The former Big 10 Coach of the Year has impacted the program and returned a winning mentality to Palo Alto. Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium is certain to host epic contests this spring and for the foreseeable future. The five-player 2021-22 signing class is highly regarded and without question, one of the best in the country. When they arrive next fall, they will infuse a great deal of talent into a roster filled with standouts.
NiJaree Canady – P/UT – Topeka, Kan.
Kyra Chan – OF – San Diego, Calif.
Emily Jones – INF – Westlake Village, Calif.
River Mahler – INF – Monroe, Wash.
Allison Morikawa – C/UT – Mission Viejo, Calif.
With the retirement of Arizona head coach Mike Candrea, UCLA field boss Kelly Inouye-Perez joins Washington head coach Heather Tarr as the longest-tenured skippers in the PAC 12. Entering her 16th year as head coach of the Bruins, Coach Inouye-Perez has impacted the softball program in Westwood for years. The 1993 UCLA grad has been in the Bruin dugout for 33 years. She has been a part of five decades of Bruin softball success. UCLA softball and winning are synonymous. And Kelly Inouye-Perez has been in the middle of most of that success. Perez and her long time veteran assistants, Lisa Fernandez and Kirk Walker, along with former Bruin and MLB standout Don Slaught, have recruited one of, if not THE top classes in the 2021-22 cycle. Easton Field, one of the long-time best home field advantages in all of sports, will continue to be the site of the very best fastpitch softball in the country.
Taylor Tinsley – P/INF – Lawrenceville, Ga.
Jordan Woolery – INF – Walnut Creek, Calif.
Megan Grant – INF – San Bruno, Calif.
Kennedy Powell – INF/OF – Conroe, Texas
Ramsey Suarez – INF – Temecula, Calif.
Rylee Pinedo – INF Camarillo, Calif.
Alexis Ramirez – C/INF – Whittier, Calif.
Dumke Family Softball Stadium in Salt Lake City has seen plenty of outstandingly gifted, very talented players don the red and white of the Utah Utes. In her 14th year as the head coach at Utah, coach Amy Hogue has been instrumental in growing the Utes program and guiding it through the university’s transition to the PAC 12. The Utes have made 16 NCAA Tournament appearances and Utah is looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. With the talent already on hand, coupled with the elite ability of the 2021-22 signing class, UU has the look of a winner.
Karlie Davison – INF – Torrence, Calif.
Brooklyn Carreon – P – Norwalk, Calif.
Abby Dayton – OF – Riverside, Calif.
Hailee White – INF – Riverside, Calif.
The Washington Huskies, under the steady hand of veteran skipper Heather Tarr, in her 18th year in Seattle, are a true force in the PAC 12 and the nation. They are loaded at every position and in the circle and they can flat out hit the ball. Husky Softball Stadium gives UW with a pronounced home field advantage and traveling to the Northwest, especially during conference play, is a tough ask for even the best of teams. The Huskies have made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and have the 2009 national championship in the trophy case. They are unquestionably looking to add a few more and when the 2021-22 signing class, which is among the most elite in the country, arrives next fall, Washington is well-positioned to continue the tradition of excellence at UW.
Brooklyn Carter – OF/UT – Seattle, Wash.
Alana Johnson – SS – Summit, Miss.
Ruby Meylan – P – Omaha, Neb.
Sydney Stewart – C – Mountain Valley, Calif.
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