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Off Central: Arizona girl selected for MLB’s Trailblazer series

Stacey Garcia and her team (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)
LISTEN: Off Central: Arizona girl selected for MLB's Trailblazer series

AVONDALE, Ariz. —  This upcoming weekend is Jackie Robinson weekend in Major League Baseball, honoring the Brooklyn Dodger who broke baseball’s color barrier when he entered the major leagues in 1947.

As part of the festivities, USA baseball and Major League Baseball are holding the Trailblazer series, a baseball tournament for girls in Compton, California.

Baseball fans were urged to nominate their favorite girl by filling out a questionnaire on why she should be chosen for the tournament. One hundred winners were picked to get an all-expenses paid trip to the tournament.

One of them is from Litchfield Park.

On a recent windy afternoon, we traveled to Festival Fields in Avondale, where we found 13-year-old Stacey Garcia warming up with her teammates on her RBI League Dodgers team.

She was dressed in Dodgers blue, and even wore No. 42, just like Jackie Robinson. The girl who attends Thomas L. Heck Middle School plays both second base and shortstop, but she prefers to play second.

“You take more control of the position (at second base),” Stacey said. “If the pitcher throws it to you, you get catch that. If the runner is stealing, you get to catch that too.”

Her coach is her dad, Esteban Garcia. He said there are actually two girls on his team, and he’s impressed by both of them.

“I have Stacey, and I have another young lady named Meghan,” Esteban said. “They play hard. They play as hard or harder than the boys, because they feel that they have to go out there and prove themselves.”

It was Esteban who nominated Stacey to play in the Trailblazer Series. On the questionnaire, he wrote that Stacey performs well both on and off of the field.

“Academically, she’s been a straight-A student,” said Esteban. “She goes hard. She goes hard academically just like she does out on the field.”

Stacey is looking forward to the Trailblazer Series. USA baseball’s website said it will feature competitive play and unique educational opportunities.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from current and former women’s national team players and coaches, baseball industry executives, and other baseball dignitaries.

In addition to the tournament, participants will get a trip to Dodger stadium for this Saturday night’s game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Even though she lives in Arizona, Stacey said she’ll be cheering for the Dodgers that night — sorry D-backs.

Esteban thinks the Trailblazer Series will be a wonderful experience for his daughter.

“Getting the girls out to Dodger stadium will show them what it feels like to be out on the big stage,” he said.

Sports is a big part of life in the Garcia household. Esteban and his wife have three other children, including a son who is one of Stacey’s teammates on the Dodgers.

“I have a high school softball player, and a little girl who also plays baseball.”

Esteban credits his wife with holding everything together. When asked when he gets any sleep, Esteban jokingly answered, “What is that?” and then laughed.

Stacey was asked what her teammates thought of her winning the chance to go the Trailblazer Series.

“They don’t really mind. They think it’s cool I guess,” Stacey said.

After saying, it was time to play ball for that evening’s 6 p.m. game, and Stacey ran off to join her teammates on the field.

Esteban is pretty proud of Stacey. As far as the Trailblazer Series is concerned, he knows that his daughter is “one in 100.”

But when he was asked if he thinks she’s actually “one in a million,” Esteban replied, “Oh my God, definitely. She definitely is.”

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