Friday, Sept. 22, 2023

NewsSportsArtsOpinionThe QuadPhotoVideoIllustrationsCartoonsGraphicsThe StackPRIMEEnterpriseInteractivesPodcastsBruinwalkClassifieds

UCLA softball 2023 player grades: Catchers

Sixth-year pitcher Brooke Yanez (left) converses with redshirt junior catcher Sharlize Palacios (right). Prior to her season-ending injury, Palacios was the primary option behind the plate for UCLA softball this year. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)

By Sam Lieberman, Matthew Royer, and Jack Nelson

May 26, 2023 3:36 p.m.

This post was updated May 29 at 10:56 p.m.

In the second of a four-part series, Daily Bruin Sports’ 2023 softball beat assembles a report card for UCLA’s catchers, grading each on their performances this season. Take a look at which catchers aced their way through class, which of them passed and if any will be bringing a failing grade back to unhappy parents.

(Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)
Palacios rises from her stance after a strike. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)

Sharlize Palacios
Season stats: .311 AVG, 10 HR, 33 RBI, .598 SLG, .403 OBP

Sam Lieberman
Sports reporter

In her first season in Westwood, redshirt junior Sharlize Palacios was one of the most consistent players on the roster.

The Arizona transfer hit .311 with 10 home runs and 33 runs batted en route to an All-Pac-12 Second Team selection, providing a steady middle of the lineup bat for coach Kelly Inouye-Perez.

Additionally, Palacios secured her second consecutive Pac-12 All-Defensive Team selection, doing the primary catching for a pitching staff that posted a 1.69 team ERA and led the conference in opposing batting average and strikeouts.

However, Palacios had a significant dropoff in production this season compared to her previous two in Tucson.

In 2021, she batted .348 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs, and she slugged .715. Last year, Palacios batted .326 with 20 dingers, 64 RBIs and a .709 slugging percentage. Both those campaigns earned her All-Pac-12 First Team honors, as well as a spot on the NFCA West All-Region Second Team.

Part of the difference in home runs and RBIs can be attributed to her reduced number of at-bats, but that doesn’t explain the downward trend in slugging, batting average and on-base percentage.

That being said, losing Palacios to a hand injury late in the season was a massive blow to the Bruins. In UCLA’s five playoff games, catchers went a combined 1-for-14 at the plate.

Even if she was having a down year by her standards, Palacios’ overall impact was one of the largest, and the Bruins felt her absence.

Grade: A-

(Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Redshirt junior Alyssa Garcia awaits a pitch while in her crouch behind home plate. (Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Alyssa Garcia
Season stats: .221 AVG, 0 HR, 13 RBI, .250 SLG, .329 OBP

Matthew Royer
Daily Bruin senior staff

The depth of this year’s team was a common talking point for Inouye-Perez throughout the 2023 campaign – that proved true when Palacios went down.

Alyssa Garcia stepped up.

The redshirt junior was supplanted by Palacios as the starting catcher at the beginning of the season, but was still able to come through for UCLA when it mattered.

Inouye-Perez often talks about the importance of defense in the postseason, and while this team finished far from the Women’s College World Series, Garcia led the catching unit in that category. Starting in 23 games and appearing in 38, the backstop held a fielding percentage of 1.000 – it doesn’t get more consistent than that. In games she started at catcher, the pitching staff put up an ERA of 1.94.

Despite her defensive acumen, Garcia was not as sharp in the batter’s box.

She had hit for a combined .318 in her three previous seasons, racking up accolades in the process – including a selection to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team in 2021.

But Garcia struggled in 2023, only tallying two extra-base hits and 13 RBIs. While her on-base percentage of .329 is respectable – walking at a higher rate than any other season with UCLA – Garcia also struck out at the highest rate of her collegiate career.

Garcia’s play gave the Bruins a mixed bag this season, but that’s better than an empty bag.

Grade: C+

(Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Freshman Alexis Ramirez catches a pitch. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Alexis Ramirez
Season stats: .189 AVG, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .243 SLG, .318 OBP

Jack Nelson
Assistant Sports editor

With the talents of Palacios and Garcia ahead of her, freshman Alexis Ramirez probably didn’t think she would get multiple starting nods – she got 10 this season.

And entering as the No. 24 recruit in the country, Ramirez also probably didn’t think she would finish dead last among all Bruins in batting average – she did that too.

Ramirez’s first year in Westwood was a double-edged sword. On the sharper edge, she proved serviceable by lessening the load placed upon Garcia late in the season, earning a .983 fielding percentage across her 22 appearances. Though No. 3 among catchers, that mark places her a tip-of-the-cap-worthy No. 9 among all 24 Bruins that took the field in 2023.

In her final seven appearances of the season, Ramirez finished with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage each time. It was her finest defensive stretch all year.

The duller side of the sword, though, struggled to cut.

Ramirez only entered the batter’s box 37 times, but was a liability when she did. She struck out more often than she recorded a hit, making eight trots back to the dugout with bat in hand against just seven knocks.

Her latter offensive effort – an 11-game stretch to close the season – was the roughest. Ramirez went just 3-for-22 with two RBIs, both of which came off the same hit.

Freshman growing pains were not the narrative for UCLA this season. Infielder Jordan Woolery and utilities Megan Grant and Kennedy Powell all carved out crucial roles in the lineup.

But sometimes freshmen are freshmen, and that was the story for Ramirez.

Grade: C-

Share this story:FacebookTwitterRedditEmail
Sam Lieberman
Matthew Royer | News and Sports senior staff
Royer is a senior staff reporter for the News and Sports sections of the Bruin. He was previously the 2022-2023 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat.
Royer is a senior staff reporter for the News and Sports sections of the Bruin. He was previously the 2022-2023 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat.
Jack Nelson | Assistant Sports editor
Nelson is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. He was previously a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
Nelson is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. He was previously a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
Featured Classifieds
Tutoring Offered

Writing Help Offered Writing/Editing/Tutorial Classes, Personal Statements, Dissertations, Theses. LSAT, MCAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL Verbal Test Prep. UC Writing Professor & Pro Leave voicemail 310-310-0583

More classifieds »
Related Posts