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Junction City's Castillo accessorizes in the circle

by Tony Burns | March 18, 2023 at 7:34 p.m.
Junction City pitcher Karla Castillo prepares to throw to first base after fielding a grounder in action this season against Rison.

Some softball pitchers try to appear intimidating in the circle. But that’s not Karla Castillo’s style. The Junction City sophomore stares toward the batter sporting a large purple bow in her hair, jewelry around her neck, golden hoop earrings with a purple swoosh of glittery makeup under her eyes.

“She is a girly-girl,” said Junction City catcher Allie Thurmon. “We all like to look good, of course. But, she is a girly-girl. I mean, we’re all the same way. We all want to look good. We all get our hair done before the game. Most of us do our makeup. We look good.”

Thurmon added, “I wear a bow. I just don’t wear a big, sparkly one.”

Castillo, one of several cheerleaders on the softball team, was quick to laugh when asked about her appearance.

“It’s just the school spirit, I guess. The whole glitter and everything? I just really like it. I would say I’m a girly girl.”

For Castillo and the Lady Dragons, the glitter, makeup, jewelry and hair accessories are part of the uniform. And yes, the way they look seeps into their performance. At least, she thinks so.

“It’s not that important but it makes you feel better,” Castillo said. “I think doing it before the game helps get you prepared. The glitter is like a whole team thing. It’s something fun.

“I think it’s more for good luck and just bonding.”

The Lady Dragons go into spring break with a 5-3 record after starting the season with four consecutive victories. In her first season as the primary pitcher, Castillo has hurled 47 innings, surrendering 21 earned runs with 18 walks and 18 strikeouts.

“I’ve been doing pretty good. It could be better. These last two games, we did have a couple of errors,” she said. “The first game we lost to Rison, we didn’t have our third baseman. I think it was a big deal that she didn’t play because we had to change our whole roster, had to change where everybody was and our whole lineup. I think that threw us off a little bit. But, we did make a couple errors. It just wasn’t our game. We’re going to have our bad days. I just think we need to fix it and it's going to get fixed. We’re in a little slump right now but I know we’re going to get better.”

The bulk of the season lies ahead. The Lady Dragons would love to make another run to the state tournament. To do so, Castillo will have to carry the load in the circle.

“This year when I’m struggling, I have to remember to take my time, take my deep breaths. I can’t look over and tell him to take me out. I just have to focus,” she said. “Sometimes Allie will call timeout and come talk to me and give me a couple breathers so I can just get my mind set before I take the next pitch.”

As for her appearance, the self proclaimed girly-girl does her nails off the field but is tough as nails on the field.

“I’m a girl who likes to dress up a lot and go shopping, just do all the girly-girl things. When I play softball, I don’t play like a girly-girl. I play like a softball player.”

A softball player who, by the way, wears a pink batting helmet.

Castillo laughed and explained simply, “It makes me stand out.”

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