When Marissa Schuld was little, she was intrigued by gymnastics. Her father, meanwhile, saw great softball potential in his only child and signed her up for Tee-ball.
His call paid off.
Earlier this week, Schuld — a star pitcher who just graduated from Phoenix’s Pinnacle High School and is the star of the Arizona Wildcats’ 2018 recruiting class — was named the Arizona Gatorade State Player of the Year for the second straight season. Schuld helped led the Pioneers to a Class 6A state softball title.
“It means a lot to me because of all the work I’ve put into it,” Schuld said. “It’s a sport I’ve been playing since I was 4 years old, so I’m glad to have come out on top for the final year.”
In the circle, Schuld posted an 11-1 record and a minuscule 0.74 ERA as a senior. She struck out 151 batters in 76 innings. At the plate, she hit .574 with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs.
Schuld could compete to become Arizona’s ace as a true freshman. Taylor McQuillin went 28-12 with a 1.68 ERA as a junior, leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Super Regionals. UCLA then tagged McQuillin for 10 earned runs on 18 hits in 11 innings over two games, to advance to the Women’s College World Series.
The Wildcats struggled against the Pac-12’s best teams — and pitchers — all season; a lack of depth in the circle was to blame. Schuld and fellow incoming freshman Vanessa Foreman should help the team right away.
“Marissa is a very accomplished pitcher that hits well,” UA coach Mike Candrea said in November. “I love her competitiveness. I think she has a good chance of being really good because she’s very meticulous. She’s one of those kids that has a very strong passion of being highly successful.”
Schuld’s first collegiate offer came from Northwestern, but she never considered going anywhere other than Arizona. The Illinois winters weren’t for her, for starters. The Wildcats felt more like home. Schuld plays club softball for the Suncats, based in Oro Valley.
“The first time I went for my unofficial visit, it just felt like a tradition and culture. It kind of seemed like a family, so that’s why I chose it,” Schuld said. “And it’s close but far from home at the same time.”
Schuld kept close tabs on Arizona during the 2018 season and wished the Wildcats could have made the WCWS.
The incoming freshman has two goals going into her first collegiate season: make a name for herself and help out the team.
“I think I can be a big role player. I know I’ll have a role on the team,” Schuld said. “If I can just keep working, and I work hard with (pitching coach) Taryne (Mowatt) every day, then hopefully we’ll be a good pitching staff and carry the team further than this year.”
Schuld’s role model is UCLA ace Rachel Garcia, who silenced the Wildcats’ bats in the Super Regionals. Schuld said she enjoyed watching Garcia pitch — and hit — in the WCWS.
“So, I’ve just been working and I’ve been taking lessons every week because I want to make an impact — not just with pitching, but with my bat, too,” Schuld said.
Schuld is running four times a week and making sure to stay in shape over the summer. Summer ball — she’s currently in California with the Suncats for a tournament — is keeping Schuld sharp.
“I’ve been just trying to fine tune things with my club team,” Schuld said. “Our goal is to win a national championship this year.”