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No Stranger To Winning, Rachel Garcia Cruises To AUX Title

rachel garcia aux softball photo by jade hewitt.jpg
(Photo by Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Winning has always been in the cards for Rachel Garcia. With an Olympic silver medal from the Tokyo Games and a national championship from UCLA, the two-way talent knew just what it would take to secure the 2023 AUX championship.

After landing in second place during her first run as a pro in the inaugural AUX season in 2022, Garcia came ready to own the crown this time around. Since transitioning from college player to professional player, Garcia has flourished with Athletes Unlimited.

“I had a year under my belt and I knew what I was expecting in regards to other players and the level of play,” Garcia said. “From college to pro, it’s a lot harder because the bats are better and the players are more experienced.”

Garcia finished the 2023 AUX season with 1,392 points and a 4-1 record in the circle, recording an AUX record of 34 strikeouts, while also excelling at the plate with a .313 batting average and eight RBIs. And to Garcia, she couldn’t imagine playing and not being able to assist her team on both sides of the game.

“Growing up, I was always told I wouldn’t be a hitting pitcher,” Garcia said. “I knew that I wasn’t going to be a pitcher only, I wasn't going to let that define who I was as an athlete. I love playing the field and I love hitting. When I have all of that, that is what makes the player that I am.”

With the offseason and training in her own hands now without the guidance of a team like she once had in college, the routine to get pro-ready wasn’t always the easiest for her. But, coaching this past season at UC San Diego surely helped her prepare.

“It’s hard, honestly,” Garcia said. “I don’t have the strength coach or the athletic trainers in my back pocket to help guide me. It was definitely a hard transition for me, but being involved in the college coaching world helped me because I was able to train with the team.”

With other distinguished pitchers in the league, Garcia has been able to pick up advice from them and also pass along some of her own wisdom. Something she preaches in the circle is to stick to what works and not to experiment too much.

“I just keep it simple,” Garcia said. “You don’t have to have all these different pitches in your arsenal to be the best pitcher. You can literally throw two pitches and be successful. Being able to throw your best pitches at different speeds (is important).”

And with Athletes Unlimited possessing a different type of scoring system where the players call the shots, Garcia is a huge fan of the format.

“(I like) being able to have the opportunity to be teammates with everybody,” Garcia said. “There have been times when I have been teammates with the same person throughout the entire season and then I get a brand-new team. It is cool having the opportunity to get to know each and every player that there is in the league.”

As the Athletes Unlimited championship season gets set to begin July 28 in Rosemont, Ill., Garcia is already looking to do just what she did during AUX. She ended in eighth place on the leaderboard in 2022, and the fire within her won’t be put out until she’s No. 1 again.

“I just want to finish higher than where I was (last year) on the leaderboard,” Garcia said.

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