OKLAHOMA CITY – This weekend, the Texas Rangers Youth Academy sent its 17U All-Star softball team to Oklahoma City to compete in the Jennie Finch Classic.
Hosted by one of softball’s greatest former pitchers, five teams from around the country gathered at the USA Softball Hall Fame Complex to participate in the three-day tournament. The Rangers Youth Academy competed alongside NOLA YA, Houston YA, Compton YA and Phillies YA, finishing the weekend 3-1 while capturing their first-ever Jennie Finch Classic championship win.
On Friday night, the team took on NOLA YA, beating the familiar foe, 11-5. The Rangers 10-hit offensive surge was led by Ximena Zamarron, Ana Gonzalez and Erin Lopez while starting pitcher Giovanca Frias had four strikeouts on the mound.
The following afternoon, the team faced division rival, Houston YA, falling short with a final score of 8-3. Both teams had seven hits apiece, but Houston took the lead with a five-run fifth inning and held the Rangers to three runs.
After the loss, the girls faced Compton YA in the semi-final game with hopes to advance to their second championship game in the tournament’s three-year history. In a high-scoring affair, the Rangers edged out Compton YA, 20-15. Giovanca Frias had 5.1 IP with four RBI, Cameron Alardin finished the game with three hits while teammates, Ana Gonzales and Erin Lopez each collected four RBI.
With the semi-final win, the team would again face Houston YA, which defeated the Rangers at the RBI Regionals championship game in July, preventing them from advancing to the RBI World Series in Florida. Houston eventually went on to win their third straight RBI World Series later that month.
On Sunday, Sept. 19, the teams met once again in a championship game, this time vying for the Jennie Finch Classic championship. In a back-and-forth game, the Rangers defeated Houston, 9-8, in seven innings. Starting pitcher Caitlyn Carrillo had 4.2 IP, three scoreless innings and three strikeouts. Centerfielder Italia Ortiz led the team on offense with three hits and three RBI, followed by shortstop Ximena Zamarron with two hits and two RBI. The girls posted four runs in the top of the seventh inning, securing their win against Houston, and claiming the title of 2021 Jennie Finch Classic Champions.