Evan Smith stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the final inning Friday, Feb. 14, with his team trailing by one run and down to its final out. He responded with a three-run, walk-off homer to give the 12U squad from the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, an 8-6 victory in its first game of the inaugural New Orleans MLB Youth Academy 12U Tournament.
Smith’s blast completed a four-run rally for the Rangers Youth Academy.
“I didn’t realize that I hit a home run until I had run to 2nd base. When I saw the right fielder raise his hands up and the umpire wave us around the bases, I really couldn’t believe what had just happened, it was really amazing and so exciting,” Smith said.
It was not the only Rangers Academy long ball of the tournament, though. Santos Salinas added a pair of homers, in addition to fanning six batters.
“I am proud of both but I’m more proud of my strikeouts because it gets me hyped and more love for the game,” Salinas said of contributing on the mound and at the plate.
The weekend tournament was held at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy in connection to the collegiate baseball Andre Dawson Classic. Participants attended Andre Dawson Classic games featuring Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and were recognized on the field prior to the Saturday, February 15 contest between Grambling State University and the University of New Orleans.
In the first-ever tournament outside of Dallas for the Rangers Academy 12U team, they finished 2-1 in pool play.
Future opportunities are planned for the Academy’s 12U team, too. Many of the athletes from the New Orleans trip will compete at the Youth Ballpark 12U Wood Bat Tournament on February 29.
High School Baseball & Softball Underway
LG Pinkston and Sunset High School baseball teams are in action at the Academy tonight, Friday, Feb. 21, as Pinkston hosts Uplift Heights and Sunset battles R.L. Turner.
Sunset returns on Saturday to host Richardson Berkner, while Thomas Jefferson will take on Spruce.
Below is a partial schedule of upcoming DISD baseball games to be played at the Academy. Scheduling is subject to change. March, April and May dates and opponents will be included in future notebooks.
Below is the February and March softball schedule for DISD high school games to be played at the Academy. Scheduling is subject to change. April dates and opponents will be included in future notebooks.
For the third straight year, Pinkston High School baseball and softball teams are calling the Academy home. Sunset High School baseball will also play its home games at the Academy, and the Sunset softball squad will join them in playing their 2020 home games at the facility.
This is the first season Thomas Jefferson High School baseball and softball teams are playing their home games at the Academy after their fields were damaged by the Oct. 2019 tornadoes that hit Dallas.
Winter Academy Training Program
The Winter Academy Training Program is entering its final week, with the final session to be held Thursday, Feb. 27.
Monday and Wednesday sessions are tailored for 18U baseball and softball players and run from 6:30-9:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday sessions, designed for 12U baseball and softball players, are from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Registration is available at texasrangers.com/academy.