SOUTHLAKE, Texas -- After the opening ceremonies banquet Tuesday night, it was time for the girls to lace up their spikes and hit the field for the softball workout day at the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series.
For the first time in the program's 22-year history, the Texas Rangers are hosting the 2014 RBI World Series, with the softball portion of the tournament being played through Sunday at a local sports complex in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The championship game will be played at Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas, on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT and televised on MLB Network.
With the pool-play games set to begin Wednesday night, the workout day gave the chance for the girls to warm up and get used to the playing field for the week, but it also provided a wide range of drills to showcase their talents and skills in front of other players and coaches.
Among the drills being used were the 60-yard dash, around-the-horn throwing, baserunning, catcher throws to second base and also home-to-outfield throws to test arm strength. The RBI program debuted a new drill this year and gave the girls a chance to show off their power hitting off a tee.
Competing in this year's RBI Softball World Series are the defending champions from Atlanta, along with teams from Cleveland, Harrisburg, Pa., Hoboken, N.J., the Dominican Republic, Minnesota, Houston and Hilo, Hawaii.
The workout started at 8 a.m. CT, but the girls had to be up much earlier to prepare for the day. For Nobu Yamauchi RBI from Hilo, Hawaii, their biggest challenge of the week might be adjusting to the 5-hour time difference in Texas.
"The time difference will be an adjustment at the beginning of the week," said James Hiraymo, coach of Nobu Yamuchi RBI. "This morning, the girls looked a little tired when they woke up. We tried to keep the girls awake on the flight to Texas and did little things during the week to try and help prepare themselves for the week."
Softball players are known for their creative chants and high-energy cheers of support for their teammates. Although it was an early workout, the time of day didn't faze the girls, and once the first team took the field for the drills, the support could already be heard in the dugouts from their teammates -- and from the other teams, too.
Mariana Patraca, former pitcher for the Mexican National Team and currently the pitching coach for Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy, was in attendance and working with girls in the drills. She knows all about the unity and camaraderie that softball provides.
"[The workout day] is all about having fun," said Patraca. "The girls are competing, but also making friends. They talk to each other and this is a good opportunity for them to relax before the games. Of course, the coaches are looking for things out of the players, but we are out here having fun, too.
"This is a really good opportunity for the girls. For a lot of them, they don't have travel teams back home, so this is the first time some get this type of exposure."
Atlanta RBI will get their its shot at defending its RBI Softball World Series title tonight with a pool-play matchup against Harrisburg RBI. The other six teams will make their 2014 RBI softball World Series debuts as well, with Minnesota Twins RBI taking on Nobu Yamauchi RBI, Cleveland RBI against Hoboken RBI and RBI Santo Domingo squaring off against Houston Astros RBI.
Ryan Cox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less