Staff and wire reports
Two Arizona Wildcats softball stars put their non-fungible tokens on sale Thursday, just in time for the start of the Women’s College World Series.
Athlete Assets, the Phoenix-based company that produces the NFTs, is selling 50 “standard edition” NFTs of Izzy Pacho and Allie Skaggs for $12.95 each and 10 “gold edition” NFTs for $50 each. (Think of NFTs as digital trading cards with a very limited run). The NFTs can be purchased with a credit card or PayPal, or with cryptocurrency.
Skaggs and Pacho will receive more than 80% of all proceeds thanks to the NCAA’s new name, image and likeness rules.
Pacho, Arizona’s starting third baseman, a Tucson native and an Ironwood Ridge High School graduate, helped to design her NFT. “I chose to work with Athlete Assets because it presents is such a unique experience and I can’t wait to spread the word about it to peer athletes as well as Wildcat fans,” she said. “I am looking forward to getting more into the NFT space and the networking opportunities it presents.”
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Earlier this spring, Athlete Assets and the UA athletic department agreed to a licensing agreement that allows the school’s logos, uniforms and colors to be used in the NFTs. Athlete Assets’ website also offers NFTs commemorating men’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd’s first win and his team’s march to the 2022 Sweet 16, and the Wildcats women’s basketball team’s run to the 2021 Final Four. Fans can also purchase a slew of NFTs featuring current Arizona football players.
Athlete Assets’ CEO is Adam Small, who swam at the UA from 2008-12. He said the NFTs are a way for fans to support athletes via the NCAA’s new NIL rules.
“If you’re a college athlete in any sport, especially for an amazing school like Arizona, you compete at the most elite level,” he said. “You have fans. Your team has fans. Those fans should have a way to support you and your team, no matter what sport you play.”
WCWS pays off for Lowe
First-year Arizona softball coach Caitlin Lowe has earned $10,000 in bonuses for leading the Wildcats to the Women’s College World Series.
As part of a five-year contract that went into effect in June 2021 after Lowe was hired to replace Mike Candrea, Lowe is scheduled to receive an annual salary of $225,000 each season through 2025-26 plus up to $15,000 in academic bonuses and up to $20,000 in performance bonuses — $5,000 if the Wildcats win the Pac-12 regular-season title, plus up to $15,000 in the postseason.
This season, Lowe earned $5,000 when the Wildcats made the NCAA Tournament plus $2,500 when UA reached the Super Regionals and another $2,500 for advancing to the WCWS. She will receive an additional $5,000 if the Wildcats win the national championship.
OU uses slams to sink Northwestern
OKLAHOMA CITY — Tiare Jennings and Jana Johns hit grand slams and No. 1 seed Oklahoma rolled past No. 9 seed Northwestern 13-2 in five innings Thursday on the opening day of the Women’s College World Series.
The defending national champion Sooners pounded out 11 hits. Northwestern’s Danielle Williams (31-5) — a first-team NFCA All-American pitcher — lasted just three innings and took the loss.
Oklahoma (55-2) advanced to play rival Texas on Saturday in their first ever World Series meeting. Texas is responsible for one of Oklahoma’s losses this season, though the Sooners won two of the three meetings. Saturday’s winner would be just one victory from a spot in the best-of-three championship series.
Northwestern (45-12) will play UCLA in an elimination game Friday.
Texas tops UCLA
OKLAHOMA CITY — Texas freshman Mia Scott is so shy that she hasn’t spoken at a news conference all season.
There was nothing timid about the way she swung the bat on Thursday. She went 4 for 4 and helped the Longhorns beat No. 5 seed UCLA 7-2 in the opening game of the Women’s College World Series.
She figured it all out against UCLA. She had a triple, a double and two singles for the Longhorns (44-19-1), who hadn’t won a World Series game since a semifinal run in 2013.
Texas’ Hailey Dolcini (23-10) held the Bruins to six hits in a complete game victory, the kind of gritty effort that got the unseeded Longhorns to Oklahoma City.
UCLA’s Megan Faraimo (22-5), a second-team NFCA All-America pitcher who missed last year’s World Series with a hand injury, took the loss.
Texas advanced to face defending national champion and No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the first-ever World Series matchup between the rivals on Saturday.
Texas broke through in the top of the third, highlighted by a two-run homer by Mary Iakopo that chased Faraimo and put the Longhorns up 4-0.
Texas’ Bella Dayton, a former Arizona Wildcat, hit a two-run homer in the sixth that chased Holly Azevedo. It was just Dayton’s fifth homer of the season, and it put the Longhorns up 7-0.
Dayton said Texas proved it is a much different team than the one UCLA beat 2-1 on Feb. 19.
“I think that we just eliminated what happened in the beginning of the season and we just kept playing the game that we’ve been playing so far, and I think we just had confidence in what we brought,” she said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism