During the shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19, Arizona went an impressive 22-3 with some help by its freshman class.
One of the freshmen that made an impact when she was on the field was catcher Sharlize Palacios. With Dejah Mulipola joining Team USA, it left a massive hole at the catcher position for Arizona, which would have to replace a player with a career .320 average along with 47 home runs and 140 RBIs.
Due to a broken thumb right before the start of the season, Palacios would have to wait for her chance to show the team and Arizona fans her skills behind the plate.
In fact, out of the 25 games played by Arizona, Palacios was only able to play in just 13 games due to injuries and splitting time with the sophomore catcher and native Tucsonan Izzy Pacho.
However, even with the limited action, Palacios made an immediate impact both behind the plate and with her bat. In those 13 games, she hit .324 with one home run and seven RBIs.
It was a season of ups and downs for the freshman catcher who has a bright future ahead. Here’s the Q&A from the interview detailing her first season in an Arizona uniform.
What was it like starting the season with the broken thumb and not being able to play right away?
SP: “I broke my thumb during one of our first scrimmages, and it was right after we came back from winter break, and I had been working all winter break with my dad and sister, and I was excited to get out there. And then, unfortunately, that had happened. And it was kind of sad at first, but it just taught me to do my own thing kind of work out by myself, make sure I was ready to come in as soon as I could, and as soon as I got clearance from the doctor, but it was amazing.”
“The girls playing, I mean, we were playing full games, and I had never really seen a collegiate game like with my team. And being able to watch them play, and it was just really fun seeing us compete against other teams, and I was their biggest cheerleader, and it was like a different experience, but it was really fun.”
What did you think about your first college experience in terms of playing, and just being out there at Hillenbrand?
SP: “Yeah, so I have been dreaming of playing at Rita for a long time. I was committed since eighth grade, and it was like I had always thought, what would it be like? What would it be like? And honestly, my first few games felt a little quick to me. And Coach told me, ‘slow it down, just play our game. You know how to play. You’re in the right spot.’ And finally, I think after my first or second game, I finally warmed up to being like, wow, yeah, I know how to play. I know what I’m doing.”
“The game slowed down, and it was almost like a memory, it was just going by so easy and so fun, I could not stop smiling after the first few games. I would step on the field, and it would just be war, you know, and it was really fun.”
Then, later you and the team go on the road in Tuscaloosa and battle with Alabama for two key victories. However, in the last game of the East Crimson Classic, you get hurt from a play at the plate. What was going through your head and the next couple of days after the injury?
SP: “To be honest, I didn’t see the girl coming for me, I was receiving the ball, and then I was just knocked out. And it was crazy how that all unfolded, and I was just kind of bummed just because I had already faced adversity with an injury already once, and I didn’t want my season to be cut short. And these games are precious; you can already tell everybody’s itching to come back and play.”
“During that time, I had a lot of support from the team, and I was just wanted to get back so quickly, but I had to understand that I needed time to heal and that my body needed time to rest.”
If you have to use one word to describe your fellow freshmen class, what would that be?
SP: “I think we’re very gritty. I think we work hard. One thing that I noticed is that we weren’t intimidated by playing older girls. I know it helped that we have an awesome senior class. Like, they just instill so much power and so much leadership that you feel like part of the senior class, that’s how I felt playing with them.”
“When I played Alabama, one of the best teams that we played in our whole season, I went up there knowing that I had my army behind me.”
What did you learn about yourself during your first season with the program?
SP: “The one thing that I pride myself on was that I was very open to the adversity, I didn’t take it out on anyone else. And I knew that I would be able to come back and play and that there was always going to be another game. So I was just open to it and embraced it. And that’s, I think what made me work a lot harder to be able to come back as quickly as I could and just be there for my team, and I just always wanted to be the best teammate to my team.”
“I think it was a good way to learn how to be a better teammate for other people, And just be open to adversity and face it, and you know what, you get punched, but you never get knocked out. So just keep coming back and face what you can.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.