It’s hard to find enough superlative words to congratulate UCLA’s softball pitcher Rachel Garcia, on winning the prestigious Honda Cup and being named the winner of the 2019 Collegiate Woman of the Year Award.
The Highland High School graduate received the coveted cup during a live television ceremony on June 24, at USC’s Galen Center.
She is the third UCLA softball player to be named the winner of the Honda Cup, joining Lisa Fernandez (1993) and Natasha Watley (2003). Bruin women who also won the Honda Cup are Ann Meyers (basketball, 1978) and Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track and field, 1985).
The top three finalists were selected by votes from nearly 1,000 NCAA member schools and the Honda Cup winner was chosen by the Board of Directors of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program.
She is the daughter of Christine and Tony Garcia.
In accepting the awards, the Highland grad thanked her parents and UCLA coaches.
She said, “It’s a lot of emotion right now, because I just couldn’t have done it (without) all the support system I have going back at home — my friends, my family.”
USA Today pointed out that “The accolade is one of many she picked up while leading the Bruins to their first Women’s College World Series title since 2010.”
The red-shirt junior was also named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year for the second time, National Fastpitch Coaches Association pitcher of the year, ESPNW national player of the year and Most Outstanding Player at the WCWS. This is the second year Garcia has been nominated for the Honda Cup, after being selected as the Honda Sport Award winner among softball players last season.
With impressive stats on the mound and at the plate, she became the first player to earn Pac-12 player and pitcher of the year honors in the same season. In 208 innings, she totaled 315 strikeouts and posted a 1.31 ERA. Batters hit just .143 against her.
In the batter’s box, Garcia hit for a .339 average and ranked third and fourth, respectively, on the team with 54 RBI and 11 home runs.
Her biggest moment came in a game against Washington, at the Women’s College World Series, when she threw 179 pitches and struck out 16 batters before hitting a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to send UCLA to the championship series against Oklahoma.
When she isn’t suiting up for the Bruins, Garcia plays for the USA Softball women’s national team. In the semifinals for the 2018 women’s world softball championship, she drove in the winning run that sent the Americans to the championship game. The U.S. went on to win the title and secure a birth to the 2020 Olympics.
“I’m super excited and super humbled and grateful to be a part of this for the second year in a row,” she told USA Today sports.
It’s been suggested that a permanent monument be developed to honor her outstanding career.