softball-d1 flag

Michella Chester | | July 17, 2020

Rachel Garcia tells the story of an emotional — but fairytale — 2019 season

Rachel Garcia breaks down her 2019 walk-off home run to send UCLA back to the championship

Rachel Garcia stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the 10th inning. Almost a decade had passed since UCLA last advanced to the WCWS championship series, but Garcia had an overwhelming sense of peace. 

She felt that Papa, her late grandfather, had his hand on her shoulder. And his hand was on her shoulder as she launched a change-up deep over the left-field wall to send the Bruins into the 2019 championship round.

"See the change-up, hit the change-up," Garcia said. "When I got two strikes on me I hit the reset button in my mind and took a deep breath and I was like 'alright I am gonna get this change-up and I know I am gonna hit this.'" 

Garcia had dedicated the season to her Papa, who died in March 2019. She played the rest of the year in his honor, his name written on her visor.

Rachel Garcia

It was a roller-coaster season for Garcia, who describes herself as a homebody who loves nothing more than going home to spend time with family. It was also a remarkable season for her. She earned her second straight National Player of the Year honor, was named the NFCA National Pitcher of the Year, Pac-12 Conference Player and Pitcher of the Year, and won the Honda Broderick Cup for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. Garcia dominated the sport, and her Papa had the best seat in the house to watch it all, with what Garcia described as the biggest smile on his face. 

Garcia threw 179 pitches with 16 strikeouts before the game-winning home run. She still had more to give. She was not going to let the game keep going. No, it was going to end right then and there.  She saw the change-up, drove it into the stands, and rounded the bases with a tear on her face to a crowd of screaming teammates.

TOP WCWS MOMENT BREAK DOWNS: Cat Osterman | Danielle Lawrie | Lisa Fernandez | Monica Abbott | Shay Knighten

UCLA was heading back to the championship series for the first time in nine years.

She wasn't done yet. She would give up all her individual accolades to win a national title with her teammates. We all know how it ends. She didn't have to when teammate Kinsley Washington hit a walk-off single and Jacqui Prober slid into home plate. That gave UCLA its first title since 2010 and what was a roller-coaster season for Garcia turned a fairy-tale finale. 

Rachel Garcia and her Papa


10 schools with the best combined men's and women's basketball programs this season, ranked

Here are the 10 colleges with the best combined men's and women's basketball programs this season, ranked by's Andy Katz.

San Francisco earns first series victory over No. 2 UCLA in Nino Giarratano's 600th career win

Clutch offense in the late innings and standout relief pitching from two freshmen Sunday lifted the San Francisco baseball team to an 8-3 series-clinching win over No. 2 UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

10 teams that could crack the Selection Committee's top 16 before the regular season ends, ranked

These are the 10 teams just outside the top 16 with the best chance to make it into the NCAA tournament Selection Committee's top four seeds, ranked by's Andy Katz.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners