Rachel Garcia first picked up the love of softball from her cousins who inspired her to play the sport. Since then, she has grown to play some high-caliber softball. She attended Highland High School where, as only a freshman, she drew the eyes of some coaches from UCLA. Since then, she knew she always wanted to be a Bruin.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned in her senior year of high school. At the bottom of the 12th inning in the CIF Southern Section Div. l championship game, her knee gave out and she fell to the ground. Initially, she got up and felt fine but, during warmups for the 13th inning, her knee buckled again and this time she had to be carried off by coaches.
Initially, the diagnosis was a torn meniscus, an injury which would only put her out a few months, compared to an ACL tear, which could sideline her for a year. While performing surgery to fix her meniscus doctors discovered she had indeed torn her ACL. It was a blow the Garcia family did not see coming. With a long recovery ahead of her, Garcia redshirted her first year at UCLA.
With over a year since Garcia last played a competitive softball game, she finally made her debut during this past season and she did not disappoint. She recorded 196 strikeouts in 182 2/3 innings while pitching 12 complete games and had 5 shutouts en route to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Freshman of the Year award and becoming the first Bruin to win the award. On top of that, she was named the Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year, All Pac-12 First Team, All Pac-12 Freshman Team, and USA Softball National Player of the Week on April 11. As if her accolades list couldn’t get any longer, she also tossed her first no-hitter of her career vs. Lehigh on May 19.
UCLA really struck gold in recruiting Rachel. For most athletes, coming back from a serious injury, like an ACL tear, is hard. Fortunately, Garcia came back better than ever. Considering what her stats were in only her freshman year, I can only imagine what the rest of career as a Bruin holds.
Hopefully, Rachel and her teammates will be able to bring home an NCAA championship.