You don’t make the late afternoon drive from Palmdale to Norco, except you’re attempting to throw off the collectors.

Rachel Garcia did it as a result of she was chasing one thing.

Garcia would get out of college at 2:45 p.m. Her dad Tony, an engineer at a hospital, would go away work at 4. As soon as every week, they’d tunnel by means of the again roads, often dipping a toe into the freeways, till they reached a batting cage run by Marty Tyson, Garcia’s journey ball coach.

“Typically it will be 90 minutes,” Rachel stated. “Typically, two-and-a-half hours. Typically we’d get again at 11 p.m. and I’d should be up at 6 a.m.”

However except Rachel Garcia turned a major softball hitter, she’d be simply one other actually good pitcher.

“I needed extra,” she stated.

In June, Garcia threw 179 pitches for UCLA in the semifinals of the Ladies’s Faculty World Sequence. She struck out 16 and gave up no runs.

In the 10th, she cranked a no-doubt three-run dwelling run for a 3-Zero win, and UCLA beat Oklahoma in the finals to win its 13th WCWS. Garcia pitched all however two innings for the Bruins in the match.

That was solely one in all the days that made Garcia the high athlete in the L.A. marketplace for 2019.

She remembers speaking to her mother Christine once they each discovered softball was returning to the Olympics. They each began crying, as a result of Garcia, 22, can be a outstanding participant in Tokyo.

“I see Monica Abbott (35) and Cat Osterman (36) attempting out for the group,” Garcia stated. “I bear in mind being only a child, watching them on TV, placing my face proper on the display, mimicking the hitter loading up for the pitcher. It modified my life fully.

“It should have been in the fifth or sixth grade. I even had an image of them attempting out again then. They checked out it and stated, ‘That’s insane.’ Now right here I’m as a teammate.”

In the previous two seasons at UCLA, Garcia is 56-5, with 601 strikeouts in 410 innings. Her ERA in 2019 was 1.14. It was 1.31 in 2018.

At the plate, she hit .343 in 2019 as a junior, .325 as a sophomore. She slugged .599 this previous season and her 57 RBIs had been third on the group.

She says “the plan” is to return again in 2021 and end it out. This season can be spent on tour with Group USA after which on a gold medal quest in Tokyo, following the path of Lisa Fernandez, now her pitching coach at UCLA.

Double responsibility in softball is a squeeze. Garcia works on hitting every time she will be able to, significantly on days earlier than she pitches. Ceaselessly she’ll work after darkish, principally hitting off a tee, however then there’s the library and homework and a 5:30 a.m. wakeup name for weights and follow.

There may be the preseason, too, when Fernandez orders the pitchers to get “all layered up,” as Garcia stated, for exercises in the hottest L.A. days.

“We’re on the market with leggings,” Garcia stated. “These are robust days, however you respect it once you’re on the mound in Oklahoma and also you’re throwing that many pitches in the warmth and humidity.”

Garcia nonetheless wore sleeves when she pitched in Oklahoma.

“That sport in opposition to Washington, that’s the kind of factor I feed off,” she stated earnestly, as if transported again there.

“It’s the beauty of pitching and hitting. You come again to the bench and also you’re so excited anyway, and one factor results in one other. I believed I had gained it earlier than they usually acquired me, and I was simply hoping I’d get one other probability at it. I had recognized it was our yr, and this simply moved us nearer.”

Garcia struck out Madison Huskey with the bases loaded in the eighth. Her bid for what most likely would have been a game-winning double was flagged down by Huskies outfielder Sami Reynolds in the ninth.

When Garcia homered and toured the bases, she eliminated a troll from her reminiscence financial institution. In 2018, Garcia had pitched each video games that UCLA misplaced to Florida State in that WCWS.

All through her travels, her thoughts not often strays from Palmdale, the place she threw 10 no-hitters for Highland Excessive with an 0.20 ERA as a senior. Sooner or later she struck out 23 throughout an ideal sport that Highland misplaced due to a catcher’s error.

Towards Torrance in the Southern Part closing, Garcia was in the midst of a 24-strikeout efficiency when her knee buckled whereas she threw a 12th-inning pitch. She hit and ran down the first-base line in the 13th, however the damage pressured her to redshirt throughout her freshman season at UCLA.

She goes again to speak to highschool teams, simply as the Clippers’ Paul George is fixing up the metropolis’s basketball courts. It’s that uncommon Southern California neighborhood with a transparent identification.

“Folks discuss Lancaster and never Palmdale, however you need to get by means of Palmdale to get to Lancaster,” she stated, then laughed. “It’s loopy to assume I can characterize Palmdale, to be one in all the few athletes who’s making it.”

Going 58 laborious miles can result in tens of 1000’s.