UCLA Women's Basketball: Why Forward Joined Softball Team En Route to WCWS

This Camarillo High School graduate initially put aside softball to focus on basketball at UCLA.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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When Gabriela Jaquez graduated from Camarillo High School, she hung up her softball cleats and committed all of her time to basketball. After all, she was committed to the sport for the UCLA Bruins. But when the opportunity to lace up her cleats knocked on her door, she couldn't resist.

The basketball star joined the softball team as a pinch runner earlier this month to give the Bruins depth and speed on the basepaths. She scored a run in her collegiate softball debut during the NCAA Super Regional round against the Georgia Bulldogs.

It's the second time in three months that Jaquez is a part of a deep postseason run and she is ready to help her new team however they need her.

“If I’m not out on the field, I know that I can give my all in the dugout,” Jaquez told Thuc Nhi Nguyen of The Los Angeles Times. “So just being a good teammate and being supportive.”

Associate head coach Kirk Walker and director of operations Claire Donyanavard identified Jaquez as a potential option to help a depleted UCLA roster heading into the NCAA Tournament. They contacted women's basketball director of operations Pam Walker and then got permission from head coach Cori Close. Walker called Jaquez on Mother's Day to offer her a spot on the team.

“Just having the opportunity to play basketball and softball is genuinely a dream come true,” Jaquez said.

Jaquez isn't the first crossover athlete for the Bruins during head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez’s tenure. The list includes U.S. women’s soccer national team star Sydney Leroux, Kodi Lavrusky and Lauren Brzykcy, who led the Bruins to NCAA championships in women’s soccer in 2013 and 2022, respectively, and beach volleyball Olympian Lauren Fendrick.

“I’m getting the best of the best as far as options,” Inouye-Perez said. “That’s part of being a Bruin, is you surround yourself with some of the most amazing athletes in the world... The fact that we all work together, to me, shows it’s Bruin family, and all of us will do anything we can to help win a national championship.”

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Maren Angus-Coombs


Maren Angus-Coombs was born in Los Angeles and raised in Nashville, Tenn. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and has been a sports writer since 2008. Despite being raised in the South, her sports obsession has always been in Los Angeles. She is currently a staff writer for the LA Sports Report Network.