UW star softball pitcher Taran Alvelo grateful for second chance after high-school shoplifting incident

After being cited in 2015, Alvelo was convinced her longtime dream of pitching for the Huskies would remain a fantasy. But UW coach Heather Tarr stood by Alvelo, and two years later she is the starting pitcher for a Huskies team set to take on Utah in the NCAA Super Regionals.

The thing she remembers most about that phone call is how badly her hands were shaking. She says her body was convulsing, too, and that her words were barely comprehensible.

One day earlier, Taran Alvelo — Ohio’s all-time wins and strikeouts leader — had pitched her high-school softball team into the state-championship game. Now she was telling Washington coach Heather Tarr she had just been cited for shoplifting.

At that moment, Alvelo was convinced her UW scholarship had gone kaput. She figured her longtime dream of pitching for the Huskies would remain a fantasy.

But just as Alvelo was tearfully expressing her worst fears, Tarr chimed in with the most reassuring words she could find.

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“Taran — you’re ours,” Tarr said. “We’re going to have your back no matter what.”

Flash forward two years later, and Alvelo is the starting pitcher for a Washington team set to take on Utah on Friday night in the NCAA Super Regionals at Husky Softball Stadium. She is an All-Pac-12 hurler whose 183 strikeouts were good for second in the conference.

She has beaten the nation’s top-ranked schools and has become a favorite among teammates. Teammates that, for a moment, she thought she had lost forever.

A dark period

You can’t talk about Taran for long without mentioning her father Aaron. It was Aaron who first noticed Taran’s talent as an 8-year-old, and Aaron who she considers her best friend.

For 10 years, Aaron devoted himself to developing his only child’s abilities — whether it be working with her privately or spending cash on travel ball. The result was Taran transforming into…

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