Academy Notebook: Car Seat Check event; USA Baseball National Team Identification Series: 11U-14U Tryouts; Programming canceled Thursday, March 30; Women’s History Month Spotlight: Daila Thomas

March 24th, 2023

Children’s Car Seat Check event at Texas Rangers Youth Academy

The Texas Rangers Youth Academy will host a children’s car seat check event with community partners Saturday, March 25, from 8 a.m. – noon. Parents can visit the Youth Academy parking lot adjacent to Johnny Oates Field on Saturday to have a registered safety technician perform an extensive check to ensure car seats are properly installed.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts research, last conducted in 2015, 46% of drivers in the U.S. have their car seats improperly installed. The Texas Rangers Youth Academy is looking to lower that statistic and decrease the risk of children being harmed in the event of a crash.

This free event is open to all North Texas residents. No advanced registration is required.

USA Baseball National Team Identification Series: 11U-14U tryouts

USA Baseball’s National Team Identification Series (NTIS) will evaluate top ball players from Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas on Sunday, March 26, at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy.

This combine-style player identification workout gives athletes across the country a chance to showcase their baseball skills with hopes of being named to one of USA Baseball’s National Team rosters.

Throughout the next several months, athletes around the U.S. will participate in first and second-round tryouts at the regional level, competing for a spot on two All-Region teams that will play at the NTIS Champions Cup in Cary, N.C., this August.

Sunday marks the first time the West Dallas Academy will host the 11U, 12U, 13U and 14U tryouts after hosting USA NTIS Tryouts for high-school-aged athletes over the past several years.

Among the 100-plus athletes that will take the field Sunday from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. are 14 Rangers Youth Academy athletes invited by USA Baseball to participate in the tryout at no cost.

Athletes selected to represent the Rangers include:

  • Greylon Lawrence – 11U
  • Nathan Salinas – 11U
  • Kyree Shine – 11U
  • Aaliyah Marquez – 12U
  • Levi McBride – 12U
  • Mason Berry – 13U
  • Jahari Page – 13U
  • Simon Portillo – 13U
  • Michael Stevenson – 13U
  • Joshua White – 13U
  • Dominik Harper – 14U
  • Braylon Hubbard – 14U
  • Emiliano Maldonado – 14U
  • Mark Rojas – 14U

Baseball and softball programming canceled for Rangers Opening Day

Next Thursday, March 30, the Texas Rangers Youth Academy will cancel spring baseball and softball programming, so athletes and coaches may attend the Rangers’ 3:05 p.m. Opening Day game at Globe Life Field.

This change in programming will only impact athletes in 9U and 12U programming, with the session resuming as scheduled on Tuesday, April 4.

For the most up-to-date information on changes to the Rangers Youth Academy programming schedule, follow @RangersYA on Twitter and Instagram.

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Daila Thomas

DeSoto High School senior Daila Thomas is so much more than her play on the softball field. Her bubbly personality and passion for helping others are just some of the things that make her unique.

First getting her interest in softball after seeing a flyer posted at school, Thomas joined a team full of fellow second graders and eventually found her way to the pitcher's circle.

Through elementary school, middle school and now high school, softball has been a constant in Thomas’ life. In 2021, after a recommendation from one of her DeSoto High teammates, Thomas landed at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy, where her love for the game flourished.

For Thomas, the competition she faces at the Youth Academy is a highlight, plus the amazing friends made along the way through programming, tournaments and travel opportunities.

In her few years at the Academy, Thomas has played in the Rangers RBI summer league for the Wood Ducks, competed in a Memorial Day Tournament and Cat Osterman Softball Tournament, and traveled to Kansas City for the Negro Leagues Museum Invitational and Los Angeles for the Jennie Finch Classic.

Through these opportunities, she’s met some of her softball role models, including Osterman, Finch and Lauren Chamberlain. “Never give up is what they told me,” said Thomas, “and I said, ‘okay!’

Thomas has continued working hard since meeting these softball greats and found even more inspiration in her all-time favorite player, Odicci Alexander.

“[Odicci] is my role model because growing up, we were really one of the only black teams playing,” she said. “Being a black pitcher, even umpires and other coaches they say, ‘Oh, she’s black, she’s not that good,’ so if you were to tell me then that we’d have a pitcher like her, a black pitcher like her, I would not have believed you. I really love watching her and love that representation.”

Thomas is well on her way to becoming an influential softball player herself, recalling one of her favorite on-field memories when she cleanly fielded three consecutive balls to end the inning for her Jennie Finch Classic team. Later, Finch stopped Thomas to compliment her play, saying, “I love a good pitcher that can field,” a moment Thomas won’t soon forget.

Her training at the Youth Academy has sharpened her skills even more and she attributes many of her successes to Academy coaches MacKenzie Valasquez and Selena Nichols.

“Coaches MacKenzie and Selena, they're really nice, well they’re stern, but they're good coaches and know what they're talking about because they've obviously done this before,” she said. “I love the advice that they give me because they’ve been in my shoes before.

“It's great because I've had coaches that have never played softball. My high school coach, he's a man, so he doesn’t know what it’s like to play softball— baseball and softball are two different things. You can tell the difference because people who haven’t played softball still know what they're talking about, but when you have somebody that's already had that experience, they can take you a step further and help you even more.”

Thomas is no stranger to strong female role models in her life, and while she’s still deciding if she wants to play collegiate softball, she's certain she'd like to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a healthcare worker.

“My mother is my greatest role model,” she said. “I can see myself in her. She is such a helpful person and she's really one of the reasons why I want to become a nurse. To hear about how she helps people every day is really cool and I want to do that too.

“I’m going to make my history by becoming a healthcare worker because, you know what, the most understaffed career is in the healthcare field and I want to be a traveling nurse, go into hospitals and help.”

As high school nears its end, Thomas will look to study nursing as she transitions to college, but will always cherish the opportunities and friendships she’s found through the Texas Rangers Youth Academy.