LOUISVILLE, Ky. – UCLA’s Rachel Garcia and Alabama’s Montana Fouts were voted the 2021 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Player and Pitcher of the Year, the Association announced on Friday afternoon.
For Garcia, this is the senior’s third consecutive NFCA postseason honor, garnering the player plaudit in 2018 and pitching award in 2019.
The NFCA first team All-American, Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year and top-three finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award just concluded her stellar career with an appearance in a fourth straight Women’s College World Series. Garcia, the 2021 Senior CLASS Award recipient, was the NFCA’s 37th four-time All-American with three consecutive unanimous first-team selections.
Garcia, again a finalist for the Honda Sports Award for Softball (2019 winner), finished 18-3 on the year with seven shutouts and 183 punchouts to just 29 walks in 136.1 innings of work. The Team USA member limited her opposition to a .183 batting average and allowed just five home runs. A dual threat, Garcia hit .342 with 13 home runs, 35 RBI, a .708 slugging percentage and a team-best .473 on-base percentage.
Fouts, a unanimous first-team NFCA All-American, played a pivotal role in the Tide winning the SEC Tournament and reaching the national semifinals. At the WCWS, Fouts twirled the first perfect game since 2000 with a 14-strikeout performance against UCLA. She finished 2021 with a 27-4 record, 1.61 ERA, 10 shutouts, and a NCAA-best 349 strikeouts in 213.1 innings of work. She posted 24 complete games, a 0.90 WHIP and opponents hit just .182 against her.
Fouts’ 349 punchouts rank third in an Alabama single season and are the most since Jackie Traina’s 361 in 2012. The SEC Co-Pitcher of the Year set a program record with 22 double-digit strikeout games, two coming at the WCWS. A top-10 finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Fouts also ranked in the NCAA’s top 10 in strikeouts per seven innings (5th), wins (t-7th) and shutouts (9th).
The Player of the Year award was created to honor the outstanding athletic achievements among softball student-athletes. In 2019, the Association expanded the award to include a Player and Pitcher of the Year. To be eligible, student-athletes must be nominated by their member head coach.
Past winners of the award include the previously-mentioned Garcia (2019 & 2018), University of Kentucky’s Abbey Cheek (Player / 2019), James Madison University’s Megan Good (2017) and University of Michigan’s Sierra Romero (2016).
NFCA All-Region and All-American athletes must be nominated by their NFCA-member head coach, are voted for by the coaches in their region or division, and ultimately selected by elected All-American committee members to receive this prestigious accolade. These honorees are in the top 1% of student-athletes competing during the 2021 season. All special awards are also selected and voted on by the All-American committee members or by the entire division.