USC women’s basketball star JuJu Watkins recently faced a new kind of pressure at Dodger Stadium, where she threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Freeway Series matchup between the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers on Saturday.

Watkins, known for her basketball prowess, admitted to feeling nervous before the first pitch.

“This is probably the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Watkins said, as reported by Beth Harris of the Associated Press. “Basketball comes easy, not baseball.”

“I always see it on social media,” she added. “Never did I think I would be throwing a pitch.”

Despite her initial plan to throw left-handed due to a sprained right index finger, Watkins decided to warm up tossing right-handed and stuck with her dominant hand to deliver a strike to Dodgers pitcher Gavin Stone.

Watkins wore a personalized Dodgers jersey and performed the traditional pre-game call of “It’s time for Dodger baseball” after throwing from the top of the mound. She was accompanied by her parents and a cousin.

As a freshman, Watkins led USC to its best season in years, helping the team win the Pac-12 championship and narrowly missing a Final Four appearance. She expressed excitement about the growing interest in women’s sports, particularly basketball.

“The women in the sport are incredible and just to see the rise of the game, it’s so inspiring,” Watkins said. “It’s definitely a collective effort. I wouldn’t say I hold any sole responsibility. Just make sure I’m doing my part.”

After taking a break following the season, including a vacation in Mexico, Watkins is eager to return to basketball.

“Now I’m ready to get back to it,” she said. “There’s so many things to get better at.”

Juju Watkins’ standout freshman debut

USC Trojans guard JuJu Watkins (12) shoots a jump shot during the second half against UConn Huskies forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center.
© Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Watkins had a standout freshman year at USC, leading the team to a deep playoff run and breaking multiple records. Watkins was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and earned a Pac-12 All-Defensive Team nod, solidifying her status as one of the top players in college basketball.

Throughout the season, Watkins averaged an impressive 27.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.6 blocked shots per game. Her scoring prowess was on full display during USC's victory over Stanford, where she set a school record with a 51-point performance, nearly matching Stanford's entire scoring output. Watkins' 51 points were the most by any USC women's basketball player, breaking a 35-year-old record previously held by Cherie Nelson.

Watkins' contributions were not limited to scoring. She also led the team in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, demonstrating her all-around ability on the court. Her leadership was evident as she guided USC to a 26-5 overall record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Watkins' performances were crucial in the Pac-12 Tournament, where she scored 33 points in a double-overtime win against UCLA, helping the Trojans secure the conference title.

In the NCAA Tournament, Watkins continued to shine. She set the USC single-season scoring record during the first-round game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, surpassing Trojan legend Cheryl Miller. Watkins finished the game with 23 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and four blocked shots, leading USC to an 87-55 victory.