Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza Enjoys Success In First Pro Season
After years of success while playing at the University of Arizona, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza took the next step in her softball career when she signed with the USSSA Pride on June 15.
After battling torn ACLs in each of her knees during college, Palomino-Cardoza overcame her adversity to produce an impressive career with the Wildcats. While at Arizona, Palomino-Cardoza hit 69 home runs, earned back-to-back first-team All-American honors in 2018 and 2019 and owned a .717 career slugging percentage.
“I think playing for Coach (Candrea) has pretty much prepared me for anything,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “He was the kind of coach you’d want to progress yourself as a player (with), and I feel that I have definitely grown as a person too. He was that father figure away from home, so I feel like off the field, I am ready to experience a lot of life things because of the things that I have learned from him as a person off the field.“
Palomino-Cardoza’s illustrious college career ended in the elimination round of the 2021 Women’s College World Series when FSU defeated Arizona. After six seasons under the coaching guidance of Mike Candrea, she knew that she was ready to take her game to the pro level.
One week after the loss, she packed her bags, said goodbye to her coach and teammates and headed to Viera, Fla. to start her next chapter.
In recent years, the structure of professional softball has evolved, allowing new talent to embark on different clubs and leagues spanning across the nation. With the swiftness of her signing process and the opportunity to play with people she was already familiar with, Palomino-Cardoza’s transition to the pro level was easy.
With the Pride, she is competing in her rookie season alongside fellow Wildcat alum Jessie Harper, former Oregon star Haley Cruse and former James Madison sensation Odicci Alexander.
“This experience has been so much fun,” said Palomino-Cardoza, who recently accepted a volunteer assistant coaching position at Oregon. “It is definitely different than college because that was a more structured process, but playing for Pride with these girls, this team and in this atmosphere has been a lot of fun. I feel relaxed when I step on the field, and I just go out there and don’t think too much about it. I just took what I learned at Arizona and the experience that I had and brought it here.”
Since stepping foot on the field, she has already begun to make a name for herself in the professional world. On June 23 against Team Canada, Palomino-Cardoza hit the first home run of her professional career, and the next day in the Pride’s 1-0 shutout win over Team Canada, she completed a fantastic diving catch that would later make ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 Plays.
“It was definitely a fun time, and getting to run in and do my first helmet tap was something that is a lot of fun for me doing it with Amanda (Lorenz), who I have known since we were 14,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “It was a lot of fun being in that atmosphere and knowing that my whole team was behind me, and they supported me and were cheering for me. I just loved every second of that moment.”
As the season comes to an end, Palomino-Cardoza is focused—as she has been for many months now—on making her late grandmother proud of her journey.
“I would say that I am playing this season for my grandma,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “She died in January, and the last thing that she told me was to make a name for myself and to continue to be who I am. (And to) just strive and thrive in my life, so a lot of my playing is for her.”