USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) has been training at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, presented by Toyota this past week as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Despite busy practice schedules, Cat Osterman and Ally Carda spent National Girls and Women in Sports Day with Academy softball athletes. Junior Kaila Torres (2022) from Sunset High School was “so excited and shocked at the same time” by the unexpected visit.
“Cat gave good advice on pitching…accuracy before speed,” said Torres, speaking on their conversation. Osterman and Carda advised them to never give up on their dreams of playing softball and to remember the importance of practicing to improve.
“I have been playing for four years and without practicing daily I would not be where I am today and to be able to compete with other softball players that have been playing for years” said Torres.
In a few months Team USA will return to the Olympic Stage in Tokyo for the first time in 13 years, after being excluded in the 2012 and 2016 Games. Torres looks forward to watching this summer.
“I cannot wait to see them on TV and to root for them. I cannot wait to see the pitching,” she said.
A scheduled three-game series between Teams USA and Mexico at the Academy, February 12-14 has been cancelled due to inclement weather.
Mexico Junior National Tryouts
This past weekend Academy player Ximena Zamarron (2022) attended a two-day tryout for the Mexico Junior National Team. After two postponements due to Covid-19 restrictions, she made the trip to Anaheim, California. Zamarron has been waiting for the opportunity for several years now.
“I was really excited to go. I made sure I practiced a lot and did a lot of hitting to prepare for it,” she said.
The tryout was split into four groups to maintain social distancing among athletes. After a brief warmup and stretching, they were divided between positions. Zamarron typically plays shortstop and infield but decided to challenge herself and conquer the outfield as well.
“They were saying good things – like I could read the ball coming off the bat well,” she said. “It made me happy they noticed that!”
The tryouts then transitioned into a scrimmage. Zamarron faced live pitching and demonstrated her in-game dexterity. After fouling off the first six pitches, she flied out on the next pitch. However, Zamarron remained positive.
“It wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but at least I knew I could keep up with the pitches and battle with her,” she explained.
Invitations to a more intimate tryout will be sent by the end of the month for players who show potential. The April camp will be an intense evaluation of skills, according to Zamarron.
Although she traveled from Texas, she did recognize some of the competitors from the All-Star Jennie Finch Classic and Elite Development Invitational in which she had previously participated. Zamarron was pleased to “see people from the Urban Youth Academy still competing.”
Overall, Zamarron was thrilled by the opportunity to attend.
“It really was a good experience to get to compete against tough players.” she said.
Black History Month Jamboree Recap
On Saturday, February 6, the Rangers MLB Youth Academy hosted the Black History Month Jamboree presented by NIKE. The Jamboree featured three DISD baseball preseason games among six Dallas high schools with the highest attendance of Black students. A total of 83 players participated in the three games on Saturday. Rangers pitcher Taylor Hearn and Assistant General Manager Josh Boyd threw out ceremonial first pitches. Boyd also took the opportunity to chat with players and coaches at the Academy.
Black History Month Jamboree Game Results:.
12:30 p.m. – Lincoln 7, Madison 3
3:30 p.m. – Adamson 13, Wilmer-Hutchins 2
6:30 p.m. – South Oak Cliff 12, Carter 2
Edward Taylor, a Rangers Youth Academy coach who doubles as an assistant coach at Adamson High School, was anxious to take the field for the first time this season. “I was extremely excited about the Jamboree at the Academy. I was excited for the players and coaches because last season ended so abruptly, and we didn’t get a chance to compete in the sport we all love,” he said.
“I was excited to see all of the guys who participate at the Academy and programming,” Taylor said. “I love seeing those guys in game situations. Practice, and drills are good and fun, but nothing compares to game situations and competing with other teams.”
Coach Taylor added that “the most memorable part of the day for me was seeing players I’ve coached in the past, talking to them, and seeing their progress. I love coaching and I am really looking forward to getting back to coaching pro ball and helping make future major leaguers great baseball players. This is my passion.”
Winter Training Program
The Academy’s Winter Training Program is quickly approaching the final stretch, with the last session scheduled for February 25. The weekly programming separated by age group is listed below. All programming runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Monday: 18U Baseball, 18U Softball
Tuesday: 12U Baseball, 12U Softball, 9U Baseball & Softball
Wednesday: 18U Baseball, 18U Softball
Thursday: 12U Baseball, 12U Softball, 9U Baseball & Softball
Registration is available at texasrangers.com/academy.