For Giulia Koutsoyanopulos playing at Arizona in front of a sold-out Rita Hillenbrand crowd has been a dream of hers since she was a little kid.
Now, the Mission Viejo, Calif., product is part of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class, achieving the dream of becoming a part of Mike Candrea’s historic program.
And like most of Koutsoyanopulos’ recruiting class, she has been committed to Arizona since the eighth grade as part of the last wave of players that could commit to a university at such a young age.
With no stats available for the 2020 season, it is hard to say what type of player Koutsoyanopulos was during her shortened senior season.
Here’s the Q&A from an interview that covers her high school career and what awaits her at Arizona.
Even though the high school season was shortened, what did you learn from such a strange season?
GK: “It kind of sucks that it was short because I feel like we were gonna have a good year and I’m really going to miss my teammates. But out of it, I feel like I learned how to rest, how to keep okay and to prevent injury and to take stretching more seriously.”
When you heard the season was going to be canceled, what were the initial thoughts that went through your head and what was the conversation with your teammates like?
GK: “It was kind of sad. But, it was really more about embracing being uncomfortable. Because this has never happened before. So just being flexible about it and adapting and I’m still staying in touch with my teammates still talking to them. So, you know, we are just trying to make the best out of the current situation.”
What is the one thing that you learned from your coach that sticks out the most?
GK: “I learned obviously to keep working hard, but to just keep having fun. Because the game is a game, you just got to keep having fun, even when things go bad, just keep rolling with it. Also, like I said before, keep being flexible and keep adapting to the situation.”
And what did you learn from yourself?
GK: “I learned that I’m a lot more motivated. I mean, I think I’m a pretty self motivated person but I learned that I’m a lot more motivated than I thought, especially with the coronavirus. I just work every day, just trying to get better even when it’s hard.”
If an Arizona fan asks you to tell them about your playing style how would you describe yourself as a player?
GK: “That’s a hard question. I would love for fans to watch me play and make their own opinion about it. But if I’d have to say I think I’m a team player, I like having fun when I play. I think that I would put anything on the line and try to do anything to help my team get a win and get better.”
What kind of player are you in terms of style of play?
GK: “I feel like I’m aggressive. Like I said before, just kind of do anything to get on base to try to help the team.”
What position do you feel most comfortable at?
GK: “I’ll play wherever I’m put. But I’m utility. so first base, outfield because I’m lefty I throw left handed.”
Why did you pick Arizona?
GK: “I chose Arizona because I knew it was all about tradition and working hard. It’s like a family environment. I knew I was going to get respectful coaches and I knew it would be like a grind-it-out environment and that’s what excited me about the program.”
Growing up watching Arizona softball, who were some players that inspired you?
GK: “I feel like this is a pretty common one but, for me it’s Jenny Finch because when I was younger I used to be a pitcher. I’d watch her and I went to a couple of her camps. That’s why I was No. 27. I also think another part as I was growing up, was Toni Mascarenas, she was my coach in 12u travel ball, and we won PGF in 2015. So yeah, I think she was a big part as well.”
How would you describe your recruiting class in one word?
GK: “Okay, I think we’re alright, I’ll keep it simple. I think we’re ballers. I think we work hard on and off the field and we have fun. I think we’re glued together as a unit. So, I think we would play good together and yeah, I just think it would work. We’ll have a blast.”
How important is it for a recruiting class to be so closely knit together before even stepping foot on campus?
GK: “I think that’s very important especially because you have to have the respect of each other and you need to have the chemistry in order to work on the field. Because it’s about communication and even when you don’t talk you should know what the other person is thinking. You should know what the next play is like. I don’t know, I feel like it should be automatic. So the chemistry definitely needs to be there.”
What do you think it is going to feel like when you step on the field at Rita Hillenbrand in between the foul poles and see 3,000 fans watching you play?
GK: “I think it’s gonna be surreal. I’m super excited to live out a dream and to play with a bunch of GOATs. I don’t know, it’s just a dream come true. And I’m really excited for it. “
What was it about Coach Candrea that made you want to come to Arizona?
GK: “Like I said before, I think he is all about tradition and working hard. I think also, because you can see that his players come back to coach or to help out. He’s respectable, and I really respect that. Also, he’s half Italian. And he’s a Yankees fan like me. So like that works out too.”
Did you ever envision yourself playing with the seniors coming back next season?
GK: “No, I did not. But that’s really hype. I think that’s supper cool. I’m just excited to be by them and just to learn from them because I don’t have the experience like them, but it’ll be cool to just watch them play and you just learn from them and keep absorbing all the knowledge that they have to give.”
Arizona Softball 2021 RosterNotes: Players without years listed are incoming freshmen. Seniors listed are returning because the NCAA has allowed another year of eligibility due to the 2020 season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Hannah Bowen||P/INF||5-4||Jr.||Ramona (Calif.)||Ramona|
|Reyna Carranco||2B||5-6||Sr.||Oxnard (Calif.)||Oxnard|
|Aris Carroll||INF||5-9||--||Phoenix||Shadow Ridge|
|Sophia Carroll||INF||5-9||--||Phoenix||Shadow Ridge|
|Isabella Dayton||OF||5-6||Fr.||Wylie (Texas)||Wylie|
|Alyssa Denham||P||6-1||Sr.||Alvin (Texas)||Pearland|
|Jesse Fontes||P||5-10||--||Fillmore (Calif.)||Adolf Camarillo.|
|Jessie Harper||SS||5-6||Sr.||Stevenson Ranch (Calif.)||West Ranch|
|Alayna Hicks||INF||5-7||Fr.||Mesa||Red Mountain|
|Giulia Koutsoyanopulos||UTL||5-11||--||Mission Viejo (Calif..||Capistrano Valley|
|Mariah Lopez||P||5-8||Sr.||Saugus (Calif.)||Saugus|
|Hannah Martinez||OF||5-7||Jr.||Garden Grove (Calif.)||Pacifica|
|Malia Martinez||3B||5-7||Sr.||Poway (Calif.)||Poway|
|Janelle Meono||OF||5-4||Fr.||Hacienda Heights (Calif.)||Glenn A. Wilson|
|Dejah Mulipola||C||5-8||Sr.||Garden (Calif.)||Pacifica|
|Devyn Netz||P/INF||5-9||--||Sierra Madre (Calif.)||Ironwood Ridge|
|Izzy Pacho||C/INF||5-5||So.||Tucson||Ironwood Ridge|
|Sharlize Palacios||C||5-6||Fr.||Chula Vista (Calif.)||Eastlake|
|Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza||OF||5-10||Sr.||Mission Viejo (Calif.)||Mission Viejo|
|Jasmine Perezchica||OF||5-8||--||La Quinta (Calif.)||Palm Desert|
|Allie Skaggs||UTL||5-8||--||Louisville (Ky.)||Ironwood Ridge|
FOLLOW TROY HUTCHISON ON TWITTER!
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.