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Five Returning College Softball Catchers To Watch In 2024

Sharlize Palacios Photo by Katharine Lotze_Getty Images.jpg
(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

No college softball team is complete without a solid catcher. While the catcher is tasked to bat just like every other player on the team, it is what the catcher does defensively that makes them so valuable to their program.

A catcher is just as important as a pitcher, touching the ball on every play and controlling the game as a mental and physical leader on the field. By controlling the running game and often calling pitches for the pitcher to throw, a catcher has an enormous impact on whether her team will win or lose.

Most top college softball catchers are upperclassmen, as it is more natural for them to be leaders. However, the five catchers below have shown that they are the real deal earlier than most in their respective college careers. See them below.

Anna Dethlefson

UC Davis

As the reigning Big West Player of the Year, Dethlefson is one of the top catchers returning to college softball in 2024. Her amazing junior season at UC Davis proved her ability to be a true five-tool player.

Dethlefson had a 1.104 OPS and .407 average in 2023. She was also able to steal 40 bases, while only allowing six stolen bases behind the plate. Her junior campaign featured multiple program records being shattered, including stolen bases, doubles and total bases. The historic season made her just the second Aggie to hit over .400 in the program's history.

With her offensive prowess at an all-time high, while still providing rock-solid defense behind the dish, Dethlefson is destined for another great season as a senior in 2024. We project her to be a top catcher in the country.

Caroline Hudson

Oklahoma State

Hudson will have a new home in 2024 after transferring from Liberty to Oklahoma State. Despite the change of scenery, we still expect Hudson to be a top catcher in college softball next season.

At Liberty, Hudson won the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year award the last two seasons. In 2023, she led the conference in RBIs with 51 and home runs with 15. Hudson is a dynamic offensive player, but one of her best abilities is availability. Hudson started 206 games in her four seasons for the Flames.

In her final year of eligibility in college softball, we project Hudson’s move to a better conference to make her an even better player. As the catcher for the Oklahoma State Cowgirls, Hudson will continue to thrive and be one of the best in the nation at her position.

Autumn Owen


The reigning Sun Belt Conference Triple Crown winner is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference, where she will play for North Carolina in her final season of college eligibility. Owen’s impressive 71 RBIs in 2023 put her on our list as a top catcher returning in 2024.

Owen is as experienced a catcher as it gets in college softball. She played two years at Gardner-Webb before playing her junior and senior seasons at Marshall.

Her combination of raw power, experience behind the dish and an opportunity to play for a top conference in the country gives us all the reason to believe Owen’s final year of college softball could be her best. In 2024, we see Owen as the cream of the crop of catchers in the sport.

Izabella Martinez


Hawaii catcher Martinez made a massive offensive leap from year one to year two of her college softball career. Entering her junior season, we expect Martinez to continue this trajectory and be known as one of the best catchers in the nation in 2024.

In 2023, Martinez hit .343 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs. Those totals were great improvements over her freshman season stats, when she hit .256 with no home runs and 14 RBIs. This offensive development from year one to year two is extremely impressive and shows Martinez’s commitment to improve.

Now as an upperclassman in 2024, Martinez will likely continue on this path and have an even better offensive season. Look for Martinez to once again improve her numbers and lead the Rainbow Wahine in the Big West as a top catcher in the country.

Sharlize Palacios


Palacios enters her final year of NCAA eligibility as one of the most experienced catchers in the country. Palacios transferred to UCLA before the 2023 season after playing three seasons for Arizona. She thrived in her first year with the Bruins.

Palacios hit .311 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. While her offense was above average for the catcher position, her defense was at the top of the charts, making just three errors all season. Her .990 fielding percentage places her as one of the best defenders in the sport.

With Palacios playing another year for UCLA, we project her to continue her success in 2024. Look for Palacios to finish her college softball career as a top catcher in the country.

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