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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | May 21, 2020

UCLA softball: The all-time starting lineup

UCLA softball: The best players in Bruins' history

The UCLA softball program is the most decorated in NCAA history and most recently brought home yet another national title in 2019. Here's one look at an all-time roster for this program, as in the best player at every position to ever play at UCLA. 

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As you can imagine, there is an abundance of choices. Multiple variations of a UCLA all-time lineup would all be dangerous. 

We dug deep into the record books to pick these players, and based the selections heavily on career statistics and UCLA all-time records, All-American honors, other awards and championships.

Tairia Mims — First base (2000-2003) 

Mims played a variety of positions at UCLA, even winning All-American honors at third base and utility. But she spent almost the entire 2002 season at first base, and we will have her here on this roster. Mims finished her career with 61 home runs and 228 RBIs, that’s third all-time in home runs and RBIs at UCLA. She's sixth in all-time hits, third in doubles and fourth in slugging percentage. 

Caitlin Benyi — Second base (2003-2006)

Benyi was a three-time All-American and national champion in 2003 and 2004. She led all of DI with 24 home runs during the 2004 season and led the team in average, runs, hits, and homers in that championship year. She was perfect on 28 defensive chances at the Women's College World Series her junior year and very notably had the game-winning RBI off of Texas ace Cat Osterman with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. That was UCLA's second victory over the Longhorns in the Women's College World Series semifinals.

Janice Parks — Third base (1987-1989)

The choices of UCLA third-base players were nearly endless: Parks, Jennifer Brundage, Andrea Duran, Stephany LaRosa, Mims and more. They’re all insanely good. We went with Janice Parks here, who won two national championships, was a three-time first team All-American and won the prestigious Honda Award as the top college player in her sport in 1989. Brundage has very similar accolades, so it was a really hard choice, but Parks was a powerhouse third baseman, the best player in the country in her time and a UCLA hall-of-famer.

Natasha Watley — Shortstop (2000-2003)

There are some other shortstop legends such as Dot Richardson, but Watley without a doubt deserves this spot. She was a four-time first team All-American and finds her name at the top of UCLA offensive charts in hits (395), runs scored (252), at-bats (878), triples (21) and stolen bases (158). She is also second in average at .450, tying her for seventh in NCAA history. Watley places in the NCAA Top 10 in hits (3rd), runs (T-6th) and steals (10th). She had over 100 hits in each of her last three seasons, leading the Bruins in hits, as well as stolen bases, all four years.

Watley was named the Honda Award winner for softball at the end of her senior season in 2003 and then went on to win the Honda-Broderick Cup, presented to the nation’s top collegiate female athlete. She went off to win a few medals in the Olympics, then come back to UCLA to coach and can be found in the school’s hall of fame. 

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Stacey Nuveman — Catcher (1997, 99, 01-02)

This one was a no-brainer as well. Nuveman is one of the greatest Bruins in history and greatest sluggers. Take a look at UCLA’s all-time records and you will see Nuveman's name everywhere. The four-time first team All-American and three-time Olympian is No. 1 in career home runs at UCLA by a landslide with 90. She also ranks first in RBIs, total bases, slugging, walks, on-base percentage and hitting with a .466 career average. 

Stephany LaRosa — Utility (2012-2015)

LaRosa is another powerful bat on this all-time roster. She played several positions at UCLA and ranks second in career home runs at UCLA behind Nuveman. She is sixth in batting average, fifth in runs scored and second in slugging.

Lisa Fernandez — Pitcher (1990-1993)

Fernandez was a four-time first team All-American and was named to the All-College World Series team four years in a row. She won the Honda Award for the best player in softball three times, and then became the first softball player to win the Honda-Broderick Cup in 1993. She also still tops the UCLA all-time shutouts list. In her senior season, Fernandez led the country with the lowest ERA, and the highest batting average (.510).

Two national championships (1990 and 1992) and three Olympic gold medals later, the legend became the first player to have her number retired at UCLA and she is enshrined in the UCLA Hall of Fame. Fernandez is a current coach at UCLA, and remains as possibly the best softball player of all time. 

Rachel Garcia — Pitcher (2017-2019)

Rachel Garcia

Garcia has been a star in college softball for the past few years. She won the Honda award for the best player in softball two consecutive years and then took home the Honda Broderick Cup for the collegiate female athlete of the year last season. On top of that, she also won USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, and NFCA National Pitcher of the Year. Even better, there is still more action from Rachel Garcia at UCLA to come. 

Bubba Nickles — Outfield (2017-2019)

Bubba Nickles

There were a few other outfield options for these three spots, but Nickles can hit for power. She led the Bruins last season with 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .714 slugging percentage. The star will also most likely be back for her final year of eligibility. 

Gina Vecchione — Outfield (1980-1982)

Vecchione is one of four players in UCLA history to have their number retired. Vecchione helped lead the Bruins the first NCAA championship in her senior 1982 season and was named to the all-Women’s College World Series team. 

Yvonne Guttierrez — Outfield (1989-1992)

Guttierrez won three national titles at UCLA and earned first-team All-American honors in each of her final three seasons. Those accolades alone were enough to get her inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, but she is also ranked in the top 10 in six statistical categories all-time at UCLA. 

Honorable mentions: Megan Langenfield, Dot Richardson, Jennifer Brundage, Keira Goerl, Kylee Perez, Kelly Howard, Amanda Freed, Debbie Doom, Anjelica Seldon, Allexis Bennett, Andrea Duran, Lisa Longaker, Ally Carda.

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