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Canyon softball's Julianna Carlos finally gets her chance

For two years, Canyon junior Julianna Carlos sat waiting and watching in the Cowboys’

Posted: April 21, 2013 8:38 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2013 8:38 p.m.

Canyon junior catcher Julianna Carlos was brought up to varsity as a freshman, but sat on the bench behind former All League catcher Courtney Ziese. Carlos made the most of her time in the dugout, watching and waiting - now it's her time to shine.

 

 

Julianna Carlos had a pretty unique view of Canyon softball games the last two years.

She’s gotten used to watching her Cowboys teammates through the chain-link fence that separates the Canyon dugout from the playing field.

With its dirt interior, green benches and dark walls, it was — with a few exceptions — where Carlos spent much of her time during Canyon softball games her freshman and sophomore seasons.

She entered Canyon as a gifted freshman catcher, talented enough to be brought directly up to the varsity squad.

What Carlos didn’t know, though, was the Cowboys already had a gifted catcher — then-junior Courtney Ziese, now a freshman catcher/third baseman at Georgia Tech University.

It was a frustrating experience, given that Carlos was in line to start her freshman season before Ziese transferred back to the school, after her move to Valencia High was deemed an illegal transfer.

“I found out (Ziese was back) literally once we started practicing for the season,” Carlos says. “So it was really tough for me in my mind I thought I’m going to be a freshman (starting) and this is going to be so exciting.”

So Carlos spent the time waiting, playing sparingly and, most importantly, watching.

“I remember just watching (the team), and every single game I would look out the dugout and see what they were doing and take it for an advantage,” she says.

Specifically, she would watch Ziese.

How she swung, how she caught, how she acted.

And most importantly, she asked questions.

“That was the thing I really liked about her. She wasn’t mean or cocky or anything,” Carlos says of Ziese. “If I asked her a question, she would help me. It was really good to have her there. I did look up to her. I saw what a Division I scholarship athlete looked like.”

Carlos did get some opportunities, picking up 11 hits and seven RBIs, mostly while playing in the outfield or pinch hitting.

But for the most part, her catching experience was virtual, sitting in the dugout observing Ziese.

“I remember sitting in the dugout watching Courtney play the position I thought I was going to have. That was hard.”

It was something her mother noticed, too.

“It brought her down a lot, but she knew she would get the opportunity to play,” says Anita Carlos. “So she was bummed about it, but she knew she would get the opportunity once Courtney left.”

Julianna could have quit. She could have sulked. She could have asked to be dropped down to junior varsity where playing time likely would have come at a higher rate.

But she did none of those things.

“She never complained. She never kept asking ‘When is my shot,’” says Canyon head coach Dwain Whalen. “She was always into the game, she was focused on what was going on. She was never one that sat there and said ‘I should be playing over her.’”

So she continued to watch from her seat in the dugout, biding her time.

“She would never go down to JV,” Anita says. “She would rather stay up at varsity and learn and watch Courtney. (Ziese) was a very good role model for her. She studied her and she would come home and say different things that Courtney would do that she needs to work on herself. She was using (the time) wisely.”

She was still in the dugout for most of the games, but she was instead using the time as a learning experience.

“My sophomore year, I accepted it and was like ‘OK, I’m going to learn from this,’ and I did learn. I carried it on to my junior year now. I knew I had to fill big shoes and I hope that’s what I’m doing,” Julianna says.

Now, she’s getting her shot to leave the dugout and take her spot behind home plate.

She currently leads the team in batting average at .476, and RBIs with 28, while starting at catcher.

And that success, and more importantly, that playing time, has made her junior season a much different experience.

The dugout isn’t the place of frustration it was in previous seasons.

“It’s more like I’m looking toward the field and that makes me happy,” she says. “I’m looking into the field and focusing on what’s going on and I’m more excited to get out there than to be in the dugout.”

There’s another dynamic this season, too.

More accurately, there’s another girl in the dugout.

It’s sophomore catcher Megan Hill’s turn to watch and wait.

And this time. it’s Carlos being watched.

“I learn a lot from (Carlos). She’s like my catching coach,” Hill says. “If I do one thing that’s not very good I ask her about it and she’ll talk to me. I literally look up to her. I pray one day I’ll be like her.”

Carlos entered the dugout her freshman year as the student.

Now, she leaves it every game as the teacher.

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