« Softball 2008

Callista Balko

Callista Balko


Balko is majoring in history with business minor and currently has a 2.8 GPA. She has an expected graduation date of December 2008. After graduation she has plans to travel overseas to play softball before returning to the States to pursue graduate school in hopes of a career in physical therapy.


Since arriving to the University of Arizona of campus in August 2004, Callista has conducted herself with the utmost professionalism and class that administrators and coaches wish for when describing the ideal student-athlete. While Callista embodies teamwork and integrity, among other attributes, it is the way she goes about her daily business that distinguishes her. There are two on-field anecdotes that exemplify Callista’s character. Over each of the last two years, Callista has caught every pitch of every game for Arizona. Due to unforeseen circumstances which rendered Arizona’s backup catchers in both 2006 and 2007 unable to play, Callista remained both durable and effective to stay healthy and ultimately help UA win the national championship in both of those years. The second story comes from the 2006 Women’s College World Series. With the game tied 0-0 in the sixth inning, Arizona had a runner at second base against Texas pitcher Cat Osterman, who is widely regarded as the best pitcher in the world having won an Olympic gold medal and several national player of the year awards. Osterman was working on a no-hitter, when Callista stepped to the plate. However, in nine career at-bats against Osterman Callista has struck out nine times. This time, Callista’s continued self-confidence and level-headedness allowed her to lace the game-winning hit into the outfield to score the runner from second. That hit kept Arizona in the winner’s bracket and is viewed as the key moment in the catapulting the Wildcats to the national championship.


Over the last three and a half years, Callista has participated in various charitable activities in her native Tucson community. In addition to fulfilling a number of speaking engagements, namely with local girls softball teams and retiree organizations, she recently helped organize the softball team’s adoption of a local family through El Rio Community Health Center. With this project, Callista and her teammates collected and contributed donations for the needy family and delivered those items to the family’s home before Christmas. Additionally, she was a finalist for 2007 Homecoming Queen and serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Board.


As Arizona’s four-year starting catcher, Balko’s experience is expected to play a considerable role in this year’s team, as the Wildcats seek a third consecutive NCAA Championship. Her experience should come into play even more so than in a typical year, as UA head coach Mike Candrea will be on a partial leave of absence this season to serve as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team.