UCLA Athletics has a long history of winning titles, producing Hall of Famers, and nurturing young athletes who grow bigger than their respective sports. For the past 103 years, Champions have called Westwood home.
On the field, UCLA softball has had its fair share of iconic and important figures. Here are the four who top the list and have the face on the All Bruins’ metaphorical Mount Rushmore for the team.
As the most successful program in college softball history, the Bruins are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to key characters. As such, it’s probably best to recognize only one coach on Mount Rushmore of the team’s all-time, even if that leaves out some truly iconic figures.
There are simply too many hugely impactful players and coaches to recognize them all, and the coach who narrowly rises above the rest is arguably Enquist.
Enquist’s time as a Bruin began in the pre-NCAA era, and she led UCLA to the AIAW National Championship as a student-athlete in 1978. Enquist had a batting average in career .401, which was a program record for the rest of the century, and she was the team’s first-ever All-American.
Returning to Westwood as an assistant in 1980, she was a key personnel part of the Bruins’ first four NCAA championships. Enquist joined Sharron Buckus as co-head coach in 1989, winning another Women’s College World Series that season to begin a four-year three-title streak.
Enquist helped the Bruins add another championship in 1995, though it was rescinded by the NCAA due to scholarship violations, but she took over as sole head coach in 1997 and won three more Women’s College World Series on her own.
UCLA’s win count under Enquist is unmatched, and his .835 winning percentage is the best ever for a coach with over 800 wins. Enquist’s 887 wins are the most in program history and she has 11 national championships overall.
Enquist also coached a long list of legendary players and she helped shape the current staff of Kelly Inouye-Perez and Lisa Fernandez. Although she was not the manager at the start of the program, she was a key part of the team from the start and her influence will continue to be felt in the years to come.
There’s a solid case to be made that Fernandez is the greatest college softball player of all time, and her accomplishments show why.
During her four years as a student-athlete at UCLA, Fernandez was a first-team All-American and a member of the All-College World Series team for all four seasons while winning the Pac- 10 Player of the Year and the Honda Award for Best Player. in softball three times each. Fernandez became the first softball player to win the Honda-Broderick Cup as a senior in 1993 – beating Mia Hamm and Sheryl Swoopes – capping one of the most statistically impressive seasons.
Fernandez had the lowest ERA in the nation at .25 while posting the highest batting average in the nation that year at .510. Fernandez’s career ERA of .22 is the second-lowest in NCAA history, also ranking sixth in strikeouts and seventh in wins among the Bruins, and his batting average of .382 is good enough to break into the top 10 in program history.
The first UCLA softball number ever retired was actually Fernandez’s No. 16, and she threw 74 shutouts, 11 total no-hitters and two perfect solo games.
Two of Fernandez’s collegiate campaigns as a player ended in national titles — the Bruins finished second in two others — and she won three Olympic gold medals for Team USA. She also didn’t ride the pin in those international wins, as she threw the last pitch to clinch gold every time.
Fernandez served as an assistant coach for the Bruins from 1997 to 1999, and after leaving her volunteer position from 2000 to 2004, she returned to a full-time role in 2007. Seven of the UCLA Women’s College World Series have come with Fernandez on the to some extent, and his status as a pitching guru and recruiting powerhouse has also helped the Bruins succeed year after year in the modern era.
The Bruins’ star shortstop of the early 21st century filled the stat sheet of a few teams that finished just before finally emerging victorious to end his career at Westwood.
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Along with playing the third-most games in UCLA history, Watley’s 878 at-bats, 395 hits, 252 runs, 21 triples and 158 stolen bases all rank first and his .450 batting average ranks second. seventh-best in NCAA history, so his long list of accomplishments extends well beyond the confines of Westwood.
Watley was a four-time All-American, beginning by setting the program record for stolen bases in a single season his freshman year. She surpassed that mark in each of the next four seasons, hitting 52 interceptions in 2001, when she also had a 36-game hitting streak.
Despite all of his success at home plate and on the base runs, Watley’s teams failed to win a title in his first three seasons. It wasn’t the fault of Watley, who recorded multiple hits each time the Bruins were knocked out in Oklahoma City, but it was never enough to get them through.
Things finally changed in 2003, a record-breaking campaign that helped Watley win Pac-10 Player of the Year, the Honda Sports Award for softball, and the Honda-Broderick Cup for top female college athlete. That individual success translated into team success as well, with UCLA winning the Women’s College World Series behind Watley’s clutch RBI and the go-ahead to capitalize on Keira Goerl’s hit.
Watley won a gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, as a volunteer assistant coach at Westwood in between, and she was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
One of the greatest hitters in softball history once called Westwood home, and she certainly left her mark on the record books.
Nuveman was at Westwood for six years — redshirted in 1998 and taking off 2000 to train with Team USA — and she certainly made the most of that longer-than-average career. As a result, Nuveman’s 264 games played first in program history, but she did more than just dress for the Bruins.
Boasting the third-highest batting average in NCAA history, Nuveman leads all Bruins with a career mark of .466. Nuveman also ranks No. 1 in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, field goal percentage, total bases and walks while also ranking No. 2 in hits and No. 5 in hits. doubles.
Nuveman has won two Olympic gold medals, an Olympic silver medal and a Women’s College World Series title, and her Bruin teams have been national title finalists twice. Along the way, Nuveman was named to the All-American First Team four times.
The UCLA team’s high level of success at this time, early in Enquist’s days as a solo head coach, came through Nuveman’s batting, and his hitting abilities are among the best to ever play the game.
Sharon Buckus: The UCLA softball catalyst certainly deserves mention on this list, as she was the team’s first-ever head coach who somehow started out as a part-timer. Buckus won nine national championships with the Bruins and cemented them as a true powerhouse in the sport, laying the foundations for them to succeed over the next six decades.
Kelly Inouye-Perez: Although she has the fewest NCAA championships as a solo head coach, Inouye-Perez has the most wins in that role. The sport has grown since Buckus and Enquist were at Westwood, and the annual title race is therefore more crowded than it was in the 1980s, but Inouye-Perez has always managed to keep UCLA as the best program in the country despite increased competition. Add her three Women’s College World Series as a player and three as an assistant to her two as a head coach, and Inouye-Perez can only go higher as her coaching career progresses.
Keira Goerl: As the program’s all-time leader with 130 wins, it’s bizarre that Goerl wasn’t selected. Goerl was instrumental in 13 no-hitters and two perfect games, and her hit to close the 2003 Women’s College World Series was among the top 25 game-breaking moments in NCAA history during the NCAA’s 100th anniversary in 2006. Goerl’s 1,095 strikeouts thrown during his career are also the second most in UCLA history, so it’s not because Fernandez is considered the greatest pitcher in the league. history of the program that Goerl’s legacy is affected the least.
Rachel Garcia: Garcia was the top softball player in the nation for several years, and it shows how accomplished UCLA is as a program that she didn’t make the cut for the top four contributors. Garcia has won the Honda Prize in softball three times — winning the Honda Cup in 2019 and 2021 — and she almost single-handedly lifted the Bruins to the 2019 Women’s College World Series title by throwing gems and smashing circuits in Oklahoma City. Her placement in the program’s all-time rankings may not match the hype surrounding her success right now, but she ranks in the top five for strikeouts and wins.
Tairia Mims: A true all-around player who earned All-American honors as a third baseman, first baseman and utility, Mims made her presence felt on the field and on the flat. Mims’ 61 homers, 228 RBIs, 59 doubles and 532 total bases all rank third in UCLA history, and she also has the sixth-most hits and fourth-highest slugging percentage. The highest. Winning a Women’s College World Series title in 2003, Mims was also present for many team successes.
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