The softball season is inching closer every day. With the season opener just over 10 days away, preseason rankings and player of the year lists are being released regularly. This week, it was the turn of USA Softball, which ranked Arizona softball No. 11 and placed redshirt sophomores Janelle Meoño and Sharlize Palacios on its top 50 player watch list.
TOP 50 PLAYER WATCH LIST— USA Softball (@USASoftball) January 26, 2022
Check out the “Watch List” for the 2022 #USASoftball Collegiate Player of the Year!
: https://t.co/MvbG9mQlZs pic.twitter.com/tXE8cbgKoL
Meoño will take over in center field this year for the Wildcats after playing left field for most of last year. She took both Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and batting champion honors last season. In addition to ranking first in the Pac-12 with a .432 batting average, she was also third in hits (72) and on-base percentage (.483). Her achievements earned her NFCA All-American, All-Region, and All-Pac-12 honors.
Palacios will move back to starting catcher. She played the position in her initial freshman season in 2020 but was moved back to reserve and designated player duties when Dejah Mulipola returned from the U.S. National Team last season. Palacios sat Arizona freshman records for home runs (18) and RBI (57) in a season while earning All-Pac-12 and All-Region honors.
The Wildcats will open play against Southern Utah on Feb. 10 at Hillenbrand Stadium. They will host the Candrea Classic beginning the following day, which includes a game against No. 2 Alabama on Saturday, Feb. 12.