The Arizona softball team is set to host Grand Canyon on Saturday and Sunday in its last home series of the regular season.
The Star spoke to ace pitcher Taylor McQuillin about what this weekend means for the three seniors — Aleah Craighton, Ashleigh Hughes and Robyn Porter — and to talk about a recent discovery the junior made in her family tree. (You’ll be as surprised as we were.)
Here’s what McQuillin, who is 22-9 with a 1.74 ERA in her junior season, had to say:
This is the last regular season home series. Will there be any celebration for the three seniors?
A: “Usually every year after the last game of the weekend, the senior parents plan a get-together. We do catering, food, dessert and celebrate the seniors at their last game in Hillenbrand for the regular season. That’s something we’ve been doing the past couple of years. We’re keeping up the trend. I know that Robyn’s mom has set up a lot of stuff and Aleah’s parents and Ashleigh’s parents have done a great job of communicating with her and helping. We’ll obviously get them senior gifts to celebrate them.”
What are your emotions going into the GCU series and having to say goodbye to some of your teammates?
A: “I think every weekend has been important, but obviously senior weekend you want to go out in style for them and make it a big weekend and support them and play for them. As a team, as a whole, this is the last weekend that we’re playing the regular season at Hillenbrand. So, it’s going to be a special weekend for all of us regardless, but it shows how quickly one season flies. You only have a certain amount of time here and you’ve got to use it to your advantage. Kind of take it and embrace every moment of it because four years go by very quick. Every year that you see the seniors graduate and move on and go out into the real world, it kind of puts it into perspective that you don’t have a lot of time left. That’s going to be me next year. It’s just something that you have to embrace. Being a part of senior weekend, making it a big moment for them, that’s about as exciting as it gets before we head off to the postseason.”
We heard through the grapevine that you’re related to Selena, the late Tejano music star. Is that true?
A: “Yes. I didn’t really know that until somebody had asked my mom and she said yes. I thought she was kidding. I was like, ‘Mom, you can’t lie about that kind of stuff.’ And she was like, ‘No, I’m not lying. We are related to her.’ And I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ I’m 21 years old and I just found out a couple months ago. It was kind of a shock for me, too. But yes, it is true.”
How exactly are you related?
A: “My mom’s grandpa, Grandpa Arturo, is related to Abraham, (who) is Selena’s dad. They grew up together in (Texas). So, that’s how we’re related. It’s kind of a chain of relations, but my mom’s grandpa is related to him.”
You were born after Selena’s death, but did you grow up listening to her music or knowing who she was?
A: “Yes, I did. I think the older I got the more I would listen to it. But when we were younger, and my grandpa was still around, he would listen to her all the time and would play it in the car. But I was too young to know who she was. He passed away when I was 5, so I was too young to know who she was. But I did listen to her music and my mom would talk about it all the time. When I got older, that’s when I started hearing the stories and took the time. I actually did a project on her my freshman year in college about her in my Spanish class. That was when I really looked in deep and kind of found out the history of who she was and how she had an impact on the world.”
You did that before knowing you were related. Does it make you more proud now, knowing that you’re connected to her in some way?
A: “Yeah, absolutely. I think that, even not knowing that I was related to her in any way, for me, it was cool for me. I thought that she left an imprint on the world today and made a huge impact with her life. And what she left for the world to see. Now, knowing I’m related to her in some way, shape or form, I think it’s pretty cool to be able to say that I’m related to people who have done extraordinary things in this world, regardless of how fast or short their time was.”
You get your own walk-up song whenever you go out to the circle. Is there any chance of maybe next year using a Selena song?
A: “Absolutely. I’ve actually thought about it before, but year to year it changes a little bit. I think it’s just the mood I’m in when I choose the song. But I definitely think Selena will definitely make an appearance. Maybe even sometime this weekend or sometime next season. We’ll see how it goes.”
What is your favorite Selena song?
A: “Oh, my goodness. I, honestly, could not tell you. There are quite a few. It’s hard for me to pick songs because I honestly do not know. Yeah, that’s a good one. I wouldn’t be able to tell you my favorite song.”