Academy Notebook: Comeback Kid: Miranda Lopez; Beyond baseball and softball 

March 26th, 2021

Comeback Kid: Miranda Lopez

“Baseball and softball have always been a part of my life,” said Miranda Lopez as she reflected on her early days in sports. “I was in second grade when I played on my first baseball team with all boys.” After that, it didn’t take long for Miranda to know she was all-in on softball. 

Lopez is a highly regarded athlete on the softball diamond, earning spots on the All-District 2nd Team (2018, 2019) and representing the Rangers Youth Academy at the RBI Southwest Regional Tournament (2018, 2019), the Jennie Finch Classic (2019) and the MLB Develops Elite Development Invitational (2019). 

“Miranda was among the youngest players to make the RBI All-Star team in 2018 when she was just 14 years of age at the time of the tryouts,” said Juan Leonel Gárciga, Director of Youth Baseball & Academy Programs. “Competing with girls who were seniors in high school, she held her own and showed that she belonged. Miranda has continued to show great bat to ball skills and used her tremendous speed to transition from primarily a first baseman to a quality outfielder with hopes of playing in college after graduation.”

Lopez’s Youth Academy legacy doesn’t stop there. In 2018, Miranda commissioned the Woodrow Wildcats Youth Academy team, consisting of Woodrow High School softball players, coached by her dad, Tony Lopez.

Unfortunately, Miranda is no stranger to injury. In March of 2020, Lopez was practicing for her upcoming dance officer tryouts when she landed incorrectly and tore her ACL, meniscus and cartilage in her right knee for the second time in four years.

When asked about the recovery process, Lopez shared honestly about her struggles as an athlete facing an injury. “It was a really challenging process, and I often felt defeated,” said Lopez. “Being forced to do no physical activity for about six months was really difficult, and I felt like every day I was getting more and more out of shape and rusty. It was extremely frustrating being unable to improve more in my sport, but instead, just sit around and wait to be able to start doing the things I used to do.”

Miranda also shared that the stress from the injury began affecting her mental health as well, often wondering “why me, why now,” while thinking about the newfound uncertainty around goals she had been working so hard to achieve.

Lopez said, “At the end of the day, I still had hope and wanted to do anything I could to get back to the things I love. I’ve accomplished so much in this sport and have worked really hard. A goal of mine for the longest time was to play college softball and still is. I’m going to continue working and fighting for what I’ve been wanting.”

After a long recovery, Lopez was officially released to return to her senior softball season. Her return hasn’t been easy, but for someone who hasn’t practiced or played in six months, “I’ve been doing pretty well,” she said. 

As someone who has conquered her injury, Lopez offers this advice to other student-athletes facing a similar situation: “Don’t let your injury define you nor discourage you. It isn’t easy to sit out, but that should motivate you to get back into your sport. There may be times you feel like giving up but do not let your injury win. Fight to get back!”

Beyond Baseball and Softball

The Texas Rangers Youth Academy goes beyond baseball and softball programming to benefit our community. With help from our partner Buckner International, the Academy hosts free education courses for athletes and their families throughout the year. 

Just upstairs from the MLB-sized indoor field at the Globe Life Training Center are a collection of classrooms ready to be used, although more recently, Youth Academy classes have been reaching far and wide with virtual teaching. The Academy offers youth programming like academic assistance, one-on-one youth enrichment, year-round life skills programs and youth cooking classes, as well as adult programs in English and Spanish such as parenting classes, finance classes and life enrichment classes. Additionally, Buckner International and the Academy offer family coaching, counseling and family-friendly events throughout the year.

“Providing unique educational offerings has always been one of our top priorities. We want to prepare our players for the next step in their lives, whether that be attending college, university, or trade school,” said Jesse Malone, Manager of Youth Academy Outreach and Education. “The mission of the MLB Youth Academies is to help build Major League Citizens, and that is what we are doing every day on the field and off the field in the classrooms, and virtually. Buckner International has been a great educational partner that helps provide resources like tutoring, nutrition classes and everything in between to help prepare academy participants for their next step in life.”

Most recently, Buckner partnered with Art House Dallas, offering a Creative Arts Camp where students virtually explored visual arts, music, painting and poetry. Plus, students and their families celebrated a successful conclusion with a drive-in movie at the Academy.

Academy courses happening now include the Young Chef: March Munchies course, which teaches students about nutrition, balanced meals and how to make healthy snacks. Also available now are virtual Teen/Tween Nights that provide a safe space for students to develop life skills like problem-solving and strong decision making.

Everyone is encouraged to register for courses at texasrangers.com/academy. Also, be sure to check the Rangers Youth Academy website for new classes offered year-round.

High School Baseball & Softball Spring into March

Below is the schedule of the remaining Pinkston, Sunset and Thomas Jefferson High School baseball and softball games to be played at the Academy in March and April. Scheduling is subject to change.

For the fourth straight year, Pinkston High School baseball and softball teams are calling the Academy home. The Sunset High School baseball and softball squad will also join them in playing their 2021 home games at the facility again this year.

This is also the second season Thomas Jefferson High School baseball and softball teams are playing their home games at the Academy after their fields were damaged by the October 2019 tornadoes that hit Dallas.

Jr. Homerun Derby

Save the date—the Jr. Homerun Derby at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy is on April 24.

Registration is open to all players under the age of 14, and participation is free. Plus, the 2021 champion has the chance to advance to the finals during the World Series.

Registration details are available at JrHRD.com.