"I was nervous," Roberta Trevino said. "It still hasn't hit me yet."
Orange Grove is a town of a little more than 1,000 people just over 30 miles west of Corpus Christi. So two cars' worth of the Trevino family loaded up and drove four hours after Robert Trevino got off work Saturday night to arrive in Houston. The family is used to traveling for the competition, as they had to drive two hours south to McAllen for the sectional competition.
They don't mind, though, as softball is a family affair for the Trevinos. Roberta's uncle, Benito Garcia, was the head coach of Orange Grove High School's softball team that went to the Texas state quarterfinals this past season. Garcia wasn't about to miss the trip to Minute Maid Park to watch his niece compete in the finals of the 13/14-year-old girls division.
"I've seen her play since she was a little bitty thing," Garcia said. "I know she's got the potential to be really good."
One of the items Garcia used as a coach was a yellow, softball-colored heart with stitches running across it.
If it worked for the high school, Robert Trevino figured it would work for his daughter as well. He made shirts with the heart-shaped softball toward the top with the words "Hit & Run & Steal & Slide" in orange down the middle. Roberta Trevino's No. 22, with her last name was on the back of the shirt as if it were a jersey, and the entire family -- aunts and uncles included -- had it on.
Roberta came in first after besting her competition in the event that includes hitting off a tee for distance and accuracy, throwing pitches at a target and running from second base to home plate. More than 4,000 local competitions -- like the one in Orange Grove -- take place every year. After the local round, players advance to a sectional competition and, finally, a team competition that takes place at the ballpark of the closest Major League team.
There were eight different divisions, separated by age and gender, competing at Minute Maid Park on Sunday morning. A total of 24 kids who had the three best scores from each division across the country will get an all-expenses paid trip to All-Star Weekend in Minneapolis. The winners will have the opportunity to shag balls at the Home Run Derby at Target Field on July 14, along with competing against the national winners, who will be announced later this month.
"It's excitement," Robert Trevino said. "It's excitement for the whole family."