The University of Utah softball team has welcomed a number of new faces to its lineup. The bulk of incoming players are not only new to the team, but are also new to the U where seven freshmen have joined the collegiate ranks.
Coming from across the nation, these players bring a background of depth and unique skills to the program.
Among the new faces on the diamond this spring are Alyssa Palacios, a utility player from La Habra, California, Chandler Walter, an infielder from Gilbert, Arizona and Julia Noskin, an infielder and outfielder from Calabasas, California.
Transitioning into college softball has been challenging for these new players, but they are ready to step up to the plate and help the team succeed. These players are entering a league where every player and every team will be a challenge, unlike their previous high school and club softball teams.
The university-level game goes at a fast pace, and new players have to catch up with a game that will not slow down for them. The score of games can change at the drop of a dime, but it isn’t over until the very end.
“In travel ball, I always knew what was coming up, and I knew what to expect in each game,” Palacios said. “Now as a freshman, everything is new and more fast paced. I don’t really know what to expect and everything goes quicker.”
Starting a new school in a new state is a big step for these student-athletes, but they aren’t alone with the guidance of older players who have fought through this transition before. The team has an instant network of support to help them grow at the U.
“Everyone was so welcoming when we first came … they answered any questions we had and helped us figure out what to expect,” Palacios said.
These new players learn a lot from returning players who take them under their wings.
“The captains are captains for a reason, so we follow them and see what they do if we need help,” Palacios said.
The players on the team have created an environment that encourages new members to be independent and feel confident in themselves. They are encouraged to ask questions and get help from their teammates.
When the players came to Salt Lake City for their official visits during high school, they had the opportunity to meet some of the players on the team. From that moment on, the players were provided with a supportive network even before entering college.
“I am excited to play in the postseason and to travel with all of my teammates,” Noskin said. “Overall, the experience and everything that goes into it is what I am looking forward to in my upcoming time here.”