UNCG sophomore third baseman Aisha Figueroa recently wrapped up play with Puerto Rico's full national softball team at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Oct. 17-23. Figueroa hit .409, the fourth-best mark in the tournament, and had five stolen bases in Puerto Rico's seven games. Below is her final blog entry about her trip.
Sorry I wasn't able to keep up with the blog as much as I thought I would be able to; I apologize! But from where I left off …
We played Dominican Republic and won that game 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was probably one of the most intense games I have ever been a part of. That win consisted of a full team effort, getting the job done with bunts, being patient at the plate and driving in runners in scoring position. We ended up winning that game on the opposing pitcher walking our batter with bases loaded, 3-2 count, and two outs, so I'm sure you could only imagine how happy we were to start off the tournament with a win like that!
Next, I believe the next game we played was against Canada. That was a very good game until Canada had one good inning against us. Canada scored two runs right in the first inning, but in our at-bat, we tied it up at 2. We held Canada to a 3-2 score until the fourth inning, but they scored six runs in that inning and we lost to them 10-2. Even though it was a loss, we weren't too disappointed because we held them for longer than any other team had.
Then the next day we played USA. I remember all the girls on my team were really nervous to play against them. I have to admit, so was I. But I remember my coach said to me, "They are just another softball team; they have two legs, two arms and a head, just like us. Just go out there and play the game you have been playing all along." Him saying that really made my nerves go away. We played great that game! We were the first team to score against USA and the first team to make them play a full seven-inning game. We did end up losing 4-1, but it was a good loss to us. USA is a very good team and they are very talented.
The next team we played was Cuba. That was a very intense game, also. Cuba scored in the fourth inning, one run, then with our next at-bat, we tied it up. Then Cuba scored two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, and we weren't able to get the job done, so we ended up losing 4-1. They are a very good hitting team with a lot of speed, so even though we did not beat them, there were a lot of things we did to keep them from scoring any more runs.
Finally, we played Venezuela and Mexico on Friday. Venezuela was one of the top two teams there and we lost them 10-5. We were the first team score that many runs on them for the last five years, I was told! Then there was Mexico – in all honesty, I don't even like to talk about this game. We lost to Mexico also, 12-5.
All in all, we didn't get to compete for a medal, but we did qualify for worlds (the ISF XIII Women's World Championship), and we will be playing in Canada for worlds this summer! It wasn't the outcome we wanted – of course we wanted to medal – but I think we did a very good job for a brand new team, and we will only continue to grow and get better from here on out.
Some personal accomplishments I had while playing: I led my team with the highest batting average and most runs scored, and I was second in the whole tournament for stolen bases. And finally, my fielding percentage was in the .900 range. This was an experience of a lifetime, and I appreciate everyone who helped me get to this point. Like my professors for being so cooperative and giving me a chance to do this. But most importantly my coaches; they were so supportive and backed me up with whatever I needed, and without them I would not have been able to do this!
Figueroa's stats at the Pan American Games
Oct. 17 vs. Dominican Republic: 1-for-4, RBI, SB
Oct. 17 vs. Canada: 1-for-3, run
Oct. 18 vs. Cuba: 2-for-3, BB, SB
Oct. 19 vs. United States: 0-for-3
Oct. 20 vs. Argentina: 1-for-3, 2 runs, RBI, SB
Oct. 21 vs. Venezuela: 2-for-3, 3 runs, 2 BB, 2 SB
Oct. 21 vs. Mexico: 2-for-3, run, BB
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