Academy Notebook: Softball players to participate in virtual invitational

July 10th, 2020

Participating in the Softball Elite Development Invitational normally involves a trip to the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla., for a five-day training program designed to emulate the USA Softball Women’s National team training camps.

Instead, this year’s programming is going virtual. And six athletes from the Texas Rangers Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, have been selected to participate.

Brenda Soto (2021, Molina High School), Ximena Zamarron (2022, Hillcrest High School), Sophia Hernandez (2021, North Dallas High School), Natalia Escalante (2022, Bishop Lynch High School), Yamilet Martinez (2021, Sunset High School) and Ariana Ortiz (2021, Molina High School) will hear from special guests and be provided with at-home drills and workouts, along with discussions and educational sessions from July 13 through 17 as part of the program.

Guest speakers will include MLB Youth Softball Ambassadors Jennie Finch, Natasha Watley and Lauren Chamberlain. Established in 2017, the Elite Development Invitational is a weeklong camp that host amateur softball players with diverse backgrounds, providing elite training, instructional opportunities, college-career guidance and life lesson seminars led by former Olympians and current USA Softball players.

Whataburger Rising Stars

Charity Vernon, Ramsey Perry, and Royce Texada were named the Whataburger Rising Stars for June after excelling in the first month of Rangers RBI programming.

On June 17, Vernon (2021, Cedar Hill High School), played an outstanding game behind the plate for Hickory. She went all out diving for a foul ball and has performed well at all the positions she has been asked to play. Her strong play has carried over into July, as she launched a home run in her game on Thursday, July 9.

Charity Vernon at the Academy.

During his game on June 27, Perry (2021, Duncanville High School), pitched five strong innings to keep his team in the tight ball game, as his team only had eight players in the field defensively.

Ramsey Perry at the Academy.

Royce Texada (2023, DeSoto High School) had a great game behind the dish and did a fantastic job managing his team’s pitchers during a contest on June 27, despite having to deal with outside distractions.

Royce Texada at the Academy.

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.

Game On

Rangers Baseball and Softball RBI leagues were the first Academy programming to get underway after the three-month pause due to COVID-19. Approximately 450 high school baseball and softball players are competing on the 26 RBI teams in Junior and Senior division play during the seven-week season.

This season, RBI Senior Nights have been added to the schedule to honor seniors whose high school careers came to an abrupt ending before their Senior Night activities could take place. Remaining senior night games are highlighted on the following schedules.

Remaining regular season schedules for the baseball and softball Junior and Senior Division teams are listed below. Scheduling is subject to change. Updates are available via @RangersYA on Twitter and Instagram. Playoff schedules will be listed in future Notebooks.

Baseball games are being played on Oates Field and Field of Dreams, with softball competition taking place on Hambone Field and Clayton Kershaw Challenge Field. Due to safety protocols, the Globe Life Indoor Training Center will remain closed at the present time. The facility is operating under the guidelines established for youth sports participation as part of the State of Texas’ reopening.

Science of Baseball Goes Virtual

Virtual Science of Baseball presented by Nike will allow students to play the new gaming app STEMadium, which teaches science, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The three-week, virtual summer camp is designed for students entering fifth through eighth grades. Activities begin July 20. Registration is now available at

Buckner Virtual Programming

Academy athletes are continuing to take part in virtual classes offered by Buckner International’s Family Hope Center at the Rangers MLB Youth Academy. Online summer classes in both English and Spanish began three weeks ago, while in-person classes will resume once the Academy’s indoor facilities reopen.