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The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Americas Softball will host its first U-15 Pan American Championship April 1-9 in Lima, Peru with 10 participating teams representing countries from North, Central and South America. The top qualifier will participate in the maiden WBSC U-15 Women’s Softball World Cup 2023 in October being held in Tokyo, Japan.
Two Orlando Christian Prep students from the varsity softball team will be part of this historic tournament. Seventh grader Yamilette Cordova and Eighth grader Sabrina Boyer will play for Team Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico will play four games in four days against Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, and Ecuador in Group B. Group A consists of the USA, Brasil, Peru, Colombia and WBSC team made up of players from various countries.
Tryouts for the team consisted of two phases - an open group tryout featuring around 60 girls displaying their offensive, defensive and agility skills, and a split-squad for the final 30 girls that participated in a tournament against U-18 teams.
Cordova and Boyer were both honest in their evaluations of themselves in the process, and on the big stage they showcased their skills as they’ve done successfully for their travel club teams and for OCP this softball season.
It took a little convincing for Yamilette to find her groove early in the process. “I did okay. Hitting was a little bit rough, fielding I think I did (well). Everything else I did was good,” said Cordova.
She thanked her father for his encouragement heading into the tournament phase of the tryouts where she played middle infield (second base and shortstop) and some outfield. “I did really good in the tournament! I had about 5 or 6 hits and no errors.”
“My main focus in the first phase was not trying to be better than anyone else, but focus on being as good as I can be,” said Boyer, who will be playing either third or first base. “In the tournament, I just showed out. I was more comfortable because I knew that as long as I played like myself, I'll be fine. It was just another tournament, but with bigger stakes.”
REPRESENTING FAMILY AND HERITAGE MATTERS
Playing softball for her family's native country and eventually the Olympics has been a dream for Boyer since she was 10 and saw the sport return to the Olympics in 2020. It motivates her to one day represent the island of Puerto Rico and her family in the sport she loves. This tournament represents the first step in that journey.
“I’m playing for my country and my team on the front of my shirt. It’s cool to represent a whole little island of my people that I care about a lot. It’s surreal,” said Boyer.
She continued, “My parents are very excited for me. But, the first person I thought about when I got the call was my sister. She’s always been one of my biggest supporters. She always talks me through the anxiety before games, being scared, or nervous, so I definitely have to thank her for being there. She helps a lot.”
Cordova’s parents were born in America, but her grandfather was born in Puerto Rico. Pride in country and “Yami” as she’s known by teammates, friends and family, are her motivation for the upcoming competition.
“All of my family was really excited and happy for me, and very proud (when the selection came). They just really hope I do well,” said Cordova.
“I’m hoping we bring back the win and that we qualify for Tokyo. I just want to make everyone proud and really represent my family over there.”
SCHEDULE AND HOW TO WATCH
The opening ceremony is on April 1st. Team Puerto Rico will play their first round-robin game on April 2 against Venezuela at 3 pm ET. The top three teams from each group will advance to the Super Round. The top four teams from the continental event will earn a ticket to the first edition of the WBSC U-15 Women’s Softball World Cup.
All the games will be live-streamed through WBSC Americas Softball YouTube Channel and Facebook Live.
Good luck and safe travels, Yami and Sabrina!
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