Rachel Garcia Named Winner of Senior CLASS Award for Softball
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Senior Rachel Garcia has been named the winner of the 2021 Senior CLASS Award for softball, as announced on Wednesday.
The award, chosen by a vote of Division I softball coaches, national softball media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I softball.
In addition to Garcia, fellow senior Bubba Nickles was named a 2021 Senior CLASS Award Softball First Team All-American.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character, and competition.
"I am so honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award and to be recognized amongst all of the senior student-athletes representing softball," said Garcia, who is the first student-athlete from UCLA to win the Senior CLASS Award. "Being a student-athlete at UCLA has prepared me to be the best that I can be beyond the diamond. I knew it was going to be challenging both academically and athletically from the moment I stepped on campus. But I also knew that if I could be successful here, then I could be successful anywhere. At times, it was very tough and I had to find my way through it, but the support system here is amazing. The alumni, the coaches and my teammates have been incredible and they have really helped me to grow into a person that I am truly proud of. I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to be a Bruin and it has been the most rewarding experience of my life."
Garcia is third in the nation with a 0.95 earned run average, coming into the Women's College World Series with a 17-1 record and 162 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings. In 26 appearances and 15 games started, she has 11 complete games, six solo shutouts and two saves, holding opponents to a .165 batting average. At the plate, Garcia is batting .351 with 12 home runs and 32 runs batted in, producing a .486 on base percentage, a .721 slugging percentage and 29 walks.
Garcia, the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year, an NFCA All-West Region First Team selection and a Top 3 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, also ranks fourth nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.71). The senior has six double-figure strikeout games this season, including two in postseason play, as she fanned 13 in a two-hit shutout of Virginia Tech last Saturday to help the Bruins advance to the Women's College World Series. Garcia has allowed zero or one earned run in 24 of her 26 appearances. She earned three Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week awards this season and a pair of Pac-12 Player of the Week plaudits.
The second-seeded Bruins open up the WCWS on Thursday against No. 10-seed Florida State at 6:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.