UNCG's Figueroa to play for Puerto Rico at Pan Am Games
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG sophomore Aisha Figueroa will play with Puerto Rico's full national softball team at the upcoming XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The multi-sport Pan American Games will take place from Oct. 14-30, with the softball portion slated for Oct. 17-23. Eight countries are fielding teams in the softball competition.
Figueroa is expected to play second base and bat at the top of the order for Puerto Rico. She is the youngest member of the team.
"They pretty much told me that because of my speed, they want me to bat leadoff, which I'm nervous about," Figueroa said. "But at the same time, it's kind of cool knowing that I'm going to play while I'm there. I'm not just going there to sit there. Even though it would be a cool experience either way, I'm glad I'm going to get the full effect about everything. I'm going to get to play, and I'm going to get to have the experience of a lifetime. I'm super, super excited."
Figueroa, whose parents are both Puerto Rican, is from Virginia Beach, Va., but is eligible to play on the team because her father is from Puerto Rico. After a coach for the national team saw Figueroa play when UNCG was in Florida State's Seminole Kick Off Classic last season, he approached her father about trying out for the team. She did so in Miami, Fla., in August and was notified that she'd made the team shortly thereafter.
Figueroa and UNCG teammate Raeanne Hanks also played summer ball in Puerto Rico this year for Valencianas de Juncos.
As a freshman for the Spartans last season, Figueroa started 56 of UNCG's 58 contests, all at third base. She hit .275 en route to earning Southern Conference All-Freshman Team honors. Figueroa was 21-for-23 in stolen base attempts, leading the Spartans in steals and finishing fourth in the league. She led UNCG in sacrifice bunts and was second in runs scored with 29.
Coincidentally, Figueroa will be UNCG's second player to represent Puerto Rico at the Pan American Games. Jennifer Bonilla, a 2007 graduate, did so in 2007.
"We're just so proud of Aisha," UNCG coach Jennifer Herzig said. "This is an outstanding opportunity for her, and the international experience that she gains in the Pan Am Games will not only benefit her personally, but also will be a big boost to our program when she returns. We wish her and Puerto Rico the best of luck and wish we could all be down there cheering her on."
- UNCG -