On the field, Natalia Cantu has been a part of making history for the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota. Off the field, the Bishop Dunne Catholic School graduate is using her experience at the Academy to build her future.
Cantu was one of the two recipients of this year’s Rangers RBI Scholarship. That means $2,500 will be applied to her tuition when she embarks on her college career at Mountain View College this fall with plans to continue to the University of Texas at Arlington in two years.
“It’s really hard to pay for college on your own. It’s just a weight lifted off my shoulders and I’m so blessed to get the scholarship,” Cantu said. (Video of Cantu discussing the scholarship is available here: https://www.mlb.com/rangers/video/cantu-blessed-by-scholarship)
The application process consisted of submitting letters of recommendation; a statement on personal background and careers goals; an essay on making a positive impact in the community; and a college acceptance letter.
Knowing that she was up against many other applicants, Cantu was careful to polish her essay and personal statement. And the effort paid off.
“When my mom texted me telling me I got the scholarship, it was amazing. I started crying,” Cantu recalled. “I worked hard and being a senior and going into my college year, I was really hoping and striving to work hard to get that scholarship.”
While Rangers RBI Scholarship recipients must also be active participants in the Rangers RBI League, Cantu embraces that part of the experience.
“I was blessed enough to get the scholarship, but my favorite part was making more sisters,” Cantu said.
The sisters the third baseman and catcher is referring to were her teammates for the softball squad that represented the Academy in the Jennie Finch Classic in Cleveland over the All-Star break.
“Getting to meet some of the USA softball girls that are on the team, seeing my heroes was really inspiring,” Cantu said of the experience in Ohio. “And then also my sisters, as I like to call them, I still talk to them every day. I just love being with them. They make me want to play softball more. They inspire me to do well as a teammate and as a person; on and off the field.”
The magic on the field continued later in July, as Cantu and many of her Jennie Finch teammates traveled to Austin to represent the Rangers as Rangers Academy RBI All-Stars in the RBI Southwest Regionals.
On July 19, they opened the tournament with an 8-3 win over RBI Austin. Game two was a 5-4 victory over NOLA RBI, landing them a spot in the Championship Contest.
The win over Austin marked the first victory for the softball team in Rangers RBI program history. Its significance was not lost on Cantu and her teammates.
“We made history! We won the first game ever. We beat New Orleans, which is one of our rivals that we’ve been trying to beat for the longest, and then we also made it to the championship. It was just amazing to see everybody go and work hard and make all these amazing plays. To have that moment with all my sisters and have all that joy, it was just amazing. I have no words,” Cantu said.
Cantu still has one more year of eligibility to participate in the Academy’s RBI League, but she doesn’t want her experience to end after that.
“I’ve loved my time out at the Academy. I wouldn’t change anything,” Cantu said. “I’m hoping to stay with RBI once I get aged out of it, I hope I can come back and coach. I love the game.”
Whataburger Rising Stars
This summer’s Whataburger Rising Stars award winners from Academy Programming were honored on the field at Globe Life Park on August 3.
Each of the Whataburger Rising Stars were nominated by Academy and RBI coaches to receive the monthly award based on their stellar achievement and outstanding sportsmanship during summer programming.
Below are the Whataburger Rising Stars for this summer:
- Joanlly Rodriguez Garcia (Softball), Jefferson High School, 2019
- Dodge Suprun (15U Baseball), Kimball High School, 2021
- Keith King (18U Baseball), Irving High School, 2020
- Abigail Cardenas (Softball), Hillcrest High School, 2020
- Jose Veiza (15U Baseball), Brown Middle School, 2023
- Travis Donnell (18U Baseball), Mabank High School, 2020
- Amanda Lynn Peterson (Softball), McArthur High School, 2020
- Ian Williams (15U Baseball), DeSoto High School, 2022
- Marco Garcia-Wong (18U Baseball), North Dallas High School, 2020
Session B of the Academy’s Summer Training Program is now in its third week and will run through August 16.
Programming is Tuesday through Friday mornings from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.
Registration is available at https://texasrangersya.leagueapps.com/camps.