When Andrea Dejesus decided to submit an application to play for Puerto Rico in the Triple Crown International Challenge—one of the biggest softball tournaments in the nation—she never thought it would happen.
Much to her surprise, the Live Oak High junior has been awarded a roster spot for Puerto Rico’s 18U red team, the biggest honor of her playing career.
“I really wasn’t expecting to get selected,” the shortstop said. “I thought, ‘Let’s go for it and just try it out. Who knows?’ It was a nice surprise.”
Nineteen countries are participating in this year’s International Challenge, which takes place June 24-26 at the spectacular Christopher Fields softball complex in Westminster, Colo. Dejesus said her dad is Puerto Rican which qualified her to play for the country in this event.
Dejesus had to submit a highlight package which was evaluated and served as the main basis upon which players are selected.
“I don’t know what to expect, but I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m going to make a lot of memories in my time there,” she said.
Live Oak has a strong softball tradition and was promoted back up to the Blossom Valley League’s Mount Hamilton Division for 2022. Even though the Acorns had lost six of their first nine league contests, Dejesus said she would still rather be competing in the A-league compared to the BVAL’s B-league Santa Teresa Division.
“We see better competition, better pitching, and even if we’re not winning every game it’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “Last year, we were run-ruling teams and this year playing the best competition has been fun.”
Acorns coach Sarah Porras scheduled tough non-league competition as usual, including Valley Christian and Aragon of San Mateo. Dejesus counts a wild 14-13 loss to the Warriors on March 16 and a 5-4 win over Aragon on March 5 as the highlights of her season so far.
In the victory over the Dons, Dejesus scored the winning run from second base after a Dons’ throwing error.
“I’m rounding third and I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I hear a voice behind me saying ‘go’ so I’m just running as hard as I can and we win that game,” Dejesus said.
Even though Live Oak lost the rematch to Valley Christian—it had beaten the Warriors just four days earlier in the Circle of Champions Tournament—Dejesus was proud of the team for making a furious rally as it scored six runs in the sixth inning to turn a 10-5 deficit into a 11-10 lead.
The Acorns couldn’t hold the advantage, but Dejesus felt great about the team’s performance.
“The hits were going back and forth and everyone was making great plays,” she said. “Even though we lost, I wasn’t really mad because all of us did great.”
Dejesus plays sound defense, has a strong arm and potent bat. She plays her travel ball with the San Jose Lady Sharks Formosa, and she’s already talked with some of the area’s powerhouse community college programs and also has been drawing interest from four-year schools.
Dejesus said while coaches have complimented her swing, it’s what she hears about her baserunning that really makes her proud.
“I’m hearing I’m aggressive and fast on the basepaths which is kind of surprising because growing up I was probably one of the slowest kids in a game,” she said. “But within recent years I’ve gotten faster and I credit that to where I train at KPI (Kinetic Performance Institute). They’ve helped me so much where I can see improvement in my strength, endurance and running.
“I think I lead the team in stolen bases, which is really surprising because I’m not the fastest girl on the team, but I am one of the fastest which is such a weird thing to say because growing up I used to be outrun by everybody,” she said. “I’ve been told I’m deceivingly fast on the basepaths, which is cool to hear given my history.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]