TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The next year-plus will be an interesting one for Arizona Wildcats All-American catcher Dejah Mulipola.
Mulipola made the United States Women’s National Team earlier this year.
She will play catcher for the senior squad this summer in a number of international events including the Japan All-Star Series, the USA Softball International Cup and the Pan-American Games.
But the question is what happens in 2020.
If Mulipola makes the national team again later this year for the club that will return to Olympic competition next year in Tokyo it will have a ripple effect at Arizona.
Past Olympic commitments have required players to redshirt and thus miss their NCAA seasons.
Since Mulipola is a junior there is question as to whether she would return to UA for her senior year in 2021.
There is precedent for players returning to college after their Olympic commitment.
UA junior Leah O’Brien-Amico (’97) missed the 1996 NCAA season to play for Team USA. She then returned to play in 1997 and helped lead the Wildcats to the fifth of their eight national championships.
Cat Osterman (Texas) and Stacy Nuveman (UCLA) also returned to school after an Olympic year, however both of those players came back with two years of college eligibility remaining.
Mulipola and UCLA star Rachel Garcia are the lone two collegiates to make this summer’s national team.
One-time Wildcat shortstop Shelby Pendley is also on the team. Pendley hit 19 home runs for UA in 2012 before transferring to Oklahoma where she won a national championship in 2013.
2020 will be the first Olympic competition for the United States since 2008.
Mike Candrea coached the 2004 U.S. team to the third of their three Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2000). He also led the 2008 silver medal-winning Olympic team. He did not coach the Wildcats in either of those seasons as longtime assistant Larry Ray stepped in on an interim basis.
Training camp for the 2019 Team USA squad begins on June 10 in Chicago. The ladies will travel to play the Japan All-Star Series beginning on June 22.