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For Sashel Palacios, Diamond Sports Are In Her Blood

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(Photo by Jade Hewitt via Athletes Unlimited)

Sashel Palacios comes from a bat-and-ball sports family. Growing up, her mother played softball and her father played baseball, which led to her own playing career on the diamond.

Thus, it's no surprise that Palacios, a catcher, is continuing to write her own bat-and-ball story today. The 2017 graduate of Arizona State competed with Athletes Unlimited softball over the summer and is currently preparing for competition at the Tokyo Olympics with Team Mexico, which is scheduled to take place next summer.

As a child, Palacios tried multiple sports, including volleyball, basketball and soccer, but softball was the one that stuck. Perhaps the influence of her parents was a big reason why.

Palacios distinctly recalls her father, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1992, playing in a baseball league in San Diego while she was growing up. She would watch him play and then come home and watch more baseball games on television to ultimately foster her love for both baseball and softball.

“I really do think that my parents were my biggest supporters, but also my critics,” Palacios said. “They were there to tell me that I did a great job, but also that I could improve in certain aspects. I think that's what has led me to continue my career and also to expect and want more for myself.

“They keep it real, they know the game, they understand the game and they're passionate about it. It's a really cool dynamic that we all share.”

The shared love that Palacios' and her parents possess helped land her in the Pac-12 at ASU during her college years. After a four-year collegiate playing career and graduate assistantship with the Sun Devils, she was able to continue her softball career internationally with Team Mexico and professionally in the NPF.

Those post-college softball opportunities led to a chance for Palacios to participate in the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited softball over the summer. With Athletes Unlimited, Palacios became one of 57 women to take part in the innovative new league in 2020.

“I think it was a perfect way to showcase our talent and also how special our softball community is,” Palacios said. “Every little detail from the big ideas to the very small ones in between were so well thought out. I've actually never been a part of something quite like it and I'm hoping that I get to go back for next season.”

Palacios said that having Athletes Unlimited on television for 30 games, through both live-streamed and televised broadcasts via ESPN and CBS Sports, in 2020 helped girls and young women see that playing softball at the professional level could be an option for them in the future.

“I think the main goal is to grow the game,” Palacios said. “And I really believe that everybody that was at AU had that same goal. We were so fortunate to be on TV to broadcast what we're capable of doing, but also be role models. It was a lot of fun to be showcasing what we can do to a live audience and to the world.”

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