UCLA’s Savannah Pola Ready To Make Big Impact For Bruins
UCLA’s freshman class may not be as flashy this year as others it has had in the past. But there is one player who stands out among the rest.
That player is Savannah Pola, a left-handed hitting infielder and outfielder from Godinez Fundamental High School in Santa Ana, Calif. Pola was ranked No. 10 in SA's 2021 Top 100 recruiting rankings.
Growing up less than an hour north of UCLA, it was always Pola's dream to play for the Bruins.
“I feel really honored that I get to play with such an amazing team with people that have experience of winning a national championship and coaches that have also won national championships,” Pola said. “I’m so grateful to be here and it just feels like a dream.”
In her senior year, Pola hit an eye-popping .707 with 30 RBI and five home runs in 13 games played. Her versatility in being able to play in the infield or outfield is what makes the Southern California-native an intriguing option for UCLA this season.
“I’m either going to help in the infield or outfield,” she said. “Wherever they need me I’ll go and honestly it doesn’t matter. If I’m in the lineup, I’ll do anything that’s asked of me. I just want to help in any way I can.”
Earning playing time with a UCLA team that retains most of its roster from last season will be difficult in 2022, despite Pola being the highest-ranked freshman for the Bruins.
But that's out of Pola's control, and for now, she's just focused on getting better and continuing to develop relationships with her new teammates. Sophomore infielder Thessa Malau'ulu grew up just 20 miles from where Pola lives. After knowing each other for a while, the two are connecting once again, but this time, as “big sisters.”
“Now that I’ve gotten here, she’s taking me under (her wing) as a big sister,” Pola said. “And she’s really helped me out with a lot of stuff. (She answers) any questions I have and is just there for me.”
The big sister program at UCLA is a way of matching the younger players with someone who has more experience on the team. Pola’s match with Malau’ulu has helped her settle into the program as the team prepares for the 2022 season.
Away from UCLA, Pola has some real sisters who have played softball as well. Selene, who is her oldest sister, played at Long Beach State as a pitcher. Keana, who played at Nebraska in 2020 and 2021, is now medically retired. Her youngest sister, Kendyl, currently plays in high school at Godinez.
Savannah was able to play with Keana in high school and travel ball for several years, which was an experience she’ll always remember.
“I loved playing with her because we just had this connection while we were on the field,” she said. “It was amazing because I always had her to talk to or help me with anything because she was my big sister.”
Softball has meant everything for Pola and her family.
“It’s actually a really big deal because it’s basically been our whole lives,” she said. “(It's) something we’ve always done and worked hard for to get to college for all of us. It’s been such a big part of our lives. It’s always softball, softball, softball. And it was hard, but worth it.”
The focus now is to get ready for the upcoming season, as Pola hopes to not only make an impact on the Bruins, but also to help them win a national championship.
“I’m excited about the championship culture,” she said. “I want to win a national championship. I want our team to be the best in the country. I’m excited about the college experience and playing at a high level, one of the highest levels in softball.”