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Facing 2021 Roster Logjam, Arizona Players Opt To Transfer

(Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Arizona fans rejoiced when the NCAA granted eligibility relief for spring sport athletes back in March. That meant the Wildcats’ talented senior class, led by Jessie Harper and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, will return to Tucson, Ariz. next season.

That class will be joined by one of the best recruiting classes in the country, as it is filled with players in Softball America’s 2020 Top 100 Recruiting Ranking. A top five team seemingly becomes even more talented in 2021. What issue could there possibly be?

The problem that has arisen for Arizona is that other players on the roster had plans to battle for the spots that would open up from the seniors’ graduation. As a result of those seniors returning for next season, the Wildcats have had five players enter the transfer portal so far this spring, including 2020 starting first baseman Ivy Davis and two-way player Marissa Schuld.

Arizona coach Mike Candrea was one of the leaders in the effort to get seniors their final year back, but he knew that there would be roster movement one way or another.

“I knew when we had the opportunity to bring our seniors back, since we have such a large class, combined with bringing in eight freshmen, that it’d make people take a look at their future, their playing time,” Candrea said. “Every kid comes here because they want to play. This brought a whole other circumstance. I knew there would be a little bit of a trickle down effect from it.”

Davis, who will play at Tennessee moving forward, truly never thought she’d leave Arizona.

“We just got put into unexpected circumstances,” Davis told Softball America in a phone interview. “I just thought moving might be a better way for me to get an opportunity and get to experience something new. It was definitely a tough decision.”

For Schuld, playing both ways allowed her time in the designated player role over the course of the shortened 2020 season. That wasn’t exactly what she wanted, since she missed playing in the field and being in the circle. Having Mariah Lopez and Alyssa Denham return to Arizona for next season played into why Schuld is now at Arizona State.

“It had a great factor on my decision in leaving,” Schuld told Softball America in a phone interview. “They had two senior pitchers returning, I just knew I wouldn’t see that much time in the circle or playing the field because it was already looking that way during the 2020 season...I honestly just missed playing the field.”

Davis’ and Schuld’s softball plans were impacted by non-softball conditions, but both are eager for new opportunities and challenges. Davis, originally from Huntington Beach, Calif., will now live the furthest east she ever has in her life as she heads to Knoxville, Tenn. She’ll go to a school that she fell in love with at an early age, and when the opportunity to be a Vol presented itself to her, she was excited.

In terms of distance, Schuld’s case is the exact opposite. The Arizona native will now move even closer to her home. She even has family members who are Sun Devil graduates. In high school, she’d spend weekends either at Arizona State football or softball games. She also has friends who are current and past Sun Devils, such as Arizona State shortstop Alynah Torres and former All-American Katelyn Boyd.

Both players are extremely grateful for their time at Arizona, as both stated they learned from a great group of coaches, made friendships and enjoyed several moments.

“It’s an incredible coaching staff and a great group of people. Even everyone at the school beyond the coaching staff, trainers, academic side, everybody is just amazing,” Davis said about Arizona. “I got so much good out of being there. I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned from that group and go apply it to the rest of my life.” 

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