Academy Notebook: Five Academy athletes selected to attend Elite Development Invitational; PLAY BALL RBI Takeover recap; Rangers writers: RBI recap

June 17th, 2022

Five Academy athletes selected to attend softball Elite Development Invitational

Five Texas Rangers Youth Academy athletes were selected to attend the invite-only 2022 softball Elite Development Invitational in Vero Beach. Ana Gonzalez, Angelica Rios, Gio Frias, Olivia Veiza and Miranda Castaneda will represent the Rangers Youth Academy at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex.

Established in 2017, the Elite Development Invitational is a Major League Baseball and USA Softball development event that aims to provide instruction, mentorship and access to collegiate softball opportunities for athletes across the country.

The 2022 Elite Development Invitational officially began yesterday, June 16, when participants arrived in Florida. Over the next five days, athletes will participate in instructional programming that focuses on improving their game on and off the field.

Gonzalez, Rios, Frias, Veiza and Castaneda will return to DFW on Tuesday, June 21, ready to implement new techniques they learn from the event coaching staff, which includes USA Softball Olympians, professional softball players and college coaches.

Texas Rangers PLAY BALL Weekend RBI Take Over recap

This recap is written by Texas Rangers Charley Pride Fellow and Rice University student, Julian Braxton.

Last Saturday, the Texas Rangers Youth Academy hosted the RBI Take Over event at its facilities in the heart of the West Dallas. The day’s baseball and softball action featured teams from the Academy’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) outreach program. To celebrate the occasion, Rangers alumni and Bally Sports Southwest analysts Steve Buechele and Mark McLemore both threw first pitches.

In addition to throwing the first pitches, Buechele and McLemore served as honorary bench coaches for the first game of RBI Take Over. Originally, the game was set to take place at Johnny Oates Field, but due to some scheduling changes, the location moved to the Field of Dreams. As established greats like Buechele and McLemore encouraged aspiring youth baseball players to stay passionate on the field, there was certainly not a better venue for the day’s festivities.

The morning’s baseball game featured a matchup between Mercy Street and Hickory: two youth baseball teams comprised primarily of boys ages 13 to 15. Buechele coached for Mercy Street while McLemore coached for Hickory. The game remained scoreless in the 1st inning, but in the second, Mercy Street roared to a strong start. The most outstanding player for Mercy Street was George Rodriguez who led the way with a crucial two-run double in the bottom of the second inning. The team scored five runs in the second which is the limit for youth games in the first three innings.

In the third inning, Hickory had an opportunity to respond to Mercy Street’s onslaught in the second. Hickory featured a young, outstanding player of their own: 13-year-old Maddox Johnson. Johnson stunned every spectator in attendance by launching a three-run home run over the left-field fence at the Field of Dreams. It was an impressive display of power for such a young man.

It will likely come as no surprise that Rodriguez and Johnson dueled in the Academy’s Junior Home Run Derby earlier this year with Johnson claiming the victory.

After their explosive start in the bottom of the second, Mercy Street would not score for the remainder of the game. In addition to a few runs throughout the game, Hickory posted a total of five runs in the top of the sixth inning to increase their lead. Mercy Street eventually fell to Hickory with a final score of 11-5.

There was certainly much to celebrate at the Youth Academy during the RBI Take Over, and few were as impressed as Buechele. “It’s neat how many kids are out here having the opportunity to come play and learn,” he said, “It’s a great facility, just tremendous.”

Texas Rangers RBI Recap: Hickory comes out victorious during high scoring game

This recap is written by Texas Rangers Youth Academy athlete, Tamya Waiters. Waiters’ first-hand recap outlines her team, the Wood Duck’s 13-10 loss on Saturday, June 7 at the Youth Academy’s Hamilton Field. Waiters graduated from The Colony High School in May 2022 and will play collegiate softball at Florida A&M.

The Wood Ducks started off strong with an in the park home run from center fielder, Ally Acosta, giving them an exciting, early lead. The Wood Ducks’ bats stayed strong throughout the game — Miranda Castaneda had a nice triple, Tamya Waiters helped her team by driving in two runs on a single, and Adelina Hoya and Cassandra Mendoza each got two hits.

Hickory was very disciplined at the plate, which allowed them to take the lead after scoring on a couple walks. In addition to the walks, Hickory had four solid singles, one being a smart bunt by Tabitha Jackson. Hickory’s lead got bigger, but not for long, as the Wood Ducks continued to hit and put up more runs, making it a close game.

The Wood Ducks may have led the game in hits, with 14, but Hickory’s discipline at the plate and solid defense allowed them to go home with a 13-10 win. This high scoring game kept everyone engaged and waiting to see who would take the win!

PLAY BALL Weekend photos

On Friday, June 10, the Texas Rangers Youth Academy hosted a special summer programming session with fun competition-style drills and PLAYBALL giveaways.
On Friday June 10, at 7 p.m., the Youth Academy held a graduation ceremony for senior student-athletes in the Class of 2022.
On Sunday, June 12, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) hosted a free Legends for Youth Clinic at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy.
PLAYBALL Weekend concluded with a free clinic at Globe Life Field on Sunday, June 12 for athletes ages 6 to 14.

Rangers RBI baseball & softball schedule