UCLA softball pitcher Garcia wins Honda Cup

UCLA softball pitcher Rachel Garcia, the Women's College World Series most outstanding player for the Bruins as they won the 2019 NCAA championship, was presented on Monday with the Honda Cup, representing the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.

Garcia, a junior from Palmdale, California, has won the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year two years in a row. This season, she was the Pac-12 pitcher and player of the year, going 29-1 with a 1.14 earned run average and 286 strikeouts in 202 innings; she also hit .343 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Garcia was one of three finalists for the Honda Cup, along with Iowa senior basketball player Megan Gustafson and Indiana senior swimmer Lilly King. The awards were handed out as part of a nationally televised ceremony at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

"Twenty-six years after Lisa Fernandez won the Honda Cup, her recruit Rachel Garcia earns the same prestigious award," said Jean Lenti Ponsetto, chair of the Collegiate Women's Sports Award board of directors. "What an exciting honor to share with her coach, the rest of the UCLA coaching staff and her teammates. She competed with fierceness and intensity, whether she was in the circle or at bat, making her a special student-athlete and the best of 2019."

Garcia is the fifth Honda Cup winner from UCLA and the third softball player (joining Natasha Watley in 2003 and Lisa Fernandez in 1993). Fernandez is a longtime assistant coach at UCLA and helped recruit Garcia.

"It is exciting to have generational winners where one generation passes along the 'power of dreams' to another," said CWSA executive director Chris Voelz.

The ceremony also included several other awards: The Honda Inspiration award went to Thomas More University volleyball player Jenna Fessler; the Honda Division II Athlete of the Year award went to Southwest Minnesota State volleyball player Taylor Reiss; and the Honda Division III Athlete of the Year award went to Thomas More basketball player Madison Temple.