Giselle Juarez

Giselle Juarez was joined by World Series Champion Luis Gonzalez, left, and her fiancé Grant Collins, right, when she threw out the first pitch at the Sept. 1 Diamondbacks Game against the San Diego Padres.

Former ASU softball player Giselle Juarez went out on top in 2021 with a Women’s College World Series win and the series MVP. But the 23-year-old from Glendale isn’t ready to hang up her cleats just yet.

Juarez, who graduated from Oklahoma in the spring, plans to continue her softball career overseas in the Japan Women’s softball league for the Toda Central General Hospital Medics.

“I’m super excited just to learn from them. Everything they do is so smooth, during the Olympics just watching them compete and seeing some of the plays they made. I can’t wait to learn from some of these people,” Juarez said.

While awaiting a visa to travel to play with her team, Juarez has reflected on her long and storied college career.

“Just being able to play at the highest level was amazing, and now looking back and seeing that it’s over, obviously I see the posts of them practicing. It makes me nostalgic already, just like, oh, I want to be back playing,” Juarez said.

The 2019 Big 12 pitcher of the year started her college career at ASU before transferring prior to her junior year to Oklahoma University. She then led Oklahoma to a Women’s College World Series win in her senior year, being named to the all-tournament team.

“When I was transferring, I’m super blessed to have been able to go there and play and just for me being able to come back from my injury and compete at the highest level again at the World Series and then to end my career on the highest note,” Juarez said.

Juarez battled through an injury her junior season that would have forced her to skip a season and play a fifth year. However, the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 and Juarez played with the seniors with whom she went through her career. 

“To know that my fellow seniors were going to be able to come back with me was really awesome, because I couldn’t imagine finishing my career with anyone else,” Juarez said, “So, just having them by my side and knowing they were coming back, I was so grateful and so excited for them.”

Juarez grew up in Glendale and graduated from Mountain Ridge High School. During her time there, the Mountain Lions won back-to-back softball state championships in 2014 and 2015. Coming out of high school, Juarez was ranked 45th in the 2016 softball class and was the first person in her family to graduate college. 

“As a student-athlete, I just got to be that first in my family. It means a lot for them and for myself just knowing that I was able to have that time management,” Juarez said. “Without softball, I know it would have been harder for me to go to college, and I feel like I’m just really grateful that I have softball ability to compete and just get an education from using something I love.”

Oklahoma was the runner-up in the season prior to the 2021 Women’s College World Series title. Juarez ended her career ranked second in opponent batting average in Oklahoma school history and second in winning percentage.

Juarez’s success in college came full circle when she threw out the first pitch at the Sept. 1 Diamondbacks game. 

“It was surreal, because I was a baseball fan growing up. My family’s from Chicago. So, for a while I was a Cubs fan but still growing up, and I used to go to the D-backs games and I was a huge fan of them growing up,” Juarez said.

Juarez hopes to join her team in Japan as soon as her visa clears.

“Softball is so huge in Japan,” Suarez said, “I’m excited just to learn their culture, to just be immersed in it, and that’s going to be super exciting.”