Laden with Pac-12 talent, Team USA Softball aims to bring home the Gold
After not being included in the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, and after having to wait an extra year with 2020’s delay, softball is back for the Tokyo Games. And when the games begin, Team USA will be awash in Pac-12 talent with more than half of the players on America’s team coming from Pac-12 schools.
UCLA will be represented in force, with four alumnae on the USA roster, more than any other university. Fresh off bringing the Bruins to the College Softball World Series and earning 2021 Pac-12 Player of the Year honors, Rachel Garcia will bring her considerable talents as a two-way player to Team USA. Garcia was phenomenal in the circle and in the box last year, compiling an 18-3 record with a 1.39 ERA while also batting .342 and launching 13 home runs.
💥 Double Threat
🏆 Led Bruins to @Pac12 Title with 14-0 Record, 11 HR & 30 RBI
🇺🇸 Named to @USASoftball in 2020
Rachel Garcia earns her THIRD #Pac12SB Player of the Year honor.#GoBruins | @UCLASoftball | @Gatorade pic.twitter.com/fyjrECfaz4
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) May 16, 2021
Garcia will be joined by 2020 teammate Bubba Nickles who hit .312 and played perfect defense (1.000 fld%) at center field for UCLA. The recent alums will be playing alongside fellow Bruins Ally Carda (class of 2015) and Delaney Spaulding (class of 2017).
After taking the Wildcats to the College Softball World Series, Arizona’s Dejah Mulipola will turn her attention to national competition, joining Team USA as a catcher. Mulipola enjoyed a five-year career in Tucson, including a 2019 season that saw her take home the Johnny Bench Award, given to the top collegiate catcher in the country.
𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐦 𝐔𝐒𝐀 🇺🇸
» 2x NFCA Catcher of the Year
» 2x NFCA All-American
» 𝙊𝙡𝙮𝙢𝙥𝙞𝙖𝙣 #BearDown | #OlympiansMadeHere pic.twitter.com/NKUgTMrfMI
— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) June 29, 2021
The Oregon Ducks will be represented by Janie Reed (née Takeda) who was a four-year starter in Eugene from 2012-2015. The Ducks took home the Pac-12 title in three of the four years that Reed was with the team, including in 2013 when the outfielder hit an otherworldly .442.
Ali Aguilar, who played for the Huskies from 2014-2017, will also be representing the Red, White, and Blue as a power hitting infielder. Adjusting to Tokyo won’t be too tricky for Aguilar, who plays professionally for the Toyota Red Terriers of the Japanese Softball League.
Valerie Arioto is a two-time World Baseball Softball Confederation gold medalist, but will be looking for her first Olympic medal. Arioto’s name is all over the Cal record books, leading all Golden Bears in Runs (222) and total bases (431) and ranking second in home runs (54) and RBIs (186).
The United States' coaching staff includes four-time Olympic medalist and current Oregon State head coach Laura Berg, along with current Washington head coach Heather Tarr. A USA Softball Hall of Fame inductee, Berg is one of just four women to have earned four Olympic medals in the sport of softball (three gold, one silver).
Utah's Hannah Flippen, the 2016 Pac-12 Player of the Year and 2017 Co-Pac-12 Player of the Year, is one of three alternates on the roster.
The Americans have taken home the gold in three of the four games when softball has been included. They are again favored this July but will face tough competition from host country Japan, as well as other perennial contenders like Mexico, led by former Wildcat Danielle Denise O'Toole-Trejo, and Australia, who will feature 2021 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Gabbie Plain.
Competition gets underway on July 21st from Tokyo. Follow Pac-12 on social media and check Pac-12.com/Tokyo2020 to make sure you never miss a minute of the action.