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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2014 > January-April > Puerto Rico National Softball Team Members Credit Little League® for Building Dreams and Teaching Teamwork, Respect

Puerto Rico National Softball Team Members Credit Little League® for Building Dreams and Teaching Teamwork, Respect

Puerto Rico National Softball Team Members Credit Little League® for Building Dreams and Teaching Teamwork, Respect

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Sport has the ability to break down barriers and elevate the human spirit. At times, life-altering moments occur during competition that becomes more poignant than the stats on a page or outcome on a scoreboard.

Little League® graduates Dayanira Diaz and Galis Lozada are members of the Puerto Rico National Softball team and had such an experience during the 2013 World Cup of Softball played in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Despite an eventual lopsided loss to Team USA, Ms. Diaz, Ms. Lozada and their teammates provided a reminder that compassion extends beyond nationality or the name on a uniform. Those moments came after Team USA’s Amber Freeman hit the second of her two home runs in the game. As the Team USA slugger rounded first base, she slipped and injured her ankle.

Slowly limping to second base, Ms. Freeman stopped and stood on the bag, trying to collect herself. As she began to hobble toward third, Ms. Diaz and Ms. Galis Lozada jogged over to Ms. Freeman and helped her in walking the rest of the way home.

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Puerto Rico’s shortstop, Galis Lozada and third baseman, Dayanira Diaz, stepped in and helped Amber Freeman of Team USA continue to get around the bases after she suffered an injury following a game-ending home run..

The selfless act drew a rousing applause from the capacity crowd. “We only wanted to help her because it was a home run and she deserved it,” said Ms. Diaz. “It's a sport; you just have to respect every athlete for what they do.”

“When I saw that she stopped at second base, I knew we had to help her continue,” said Ms. Lozada. “I did not think that all the public and my teammates would respond that way. Everyone was clapping and saying, ‘Thank you!’ It was a very exciting moment.”

Ms. Diaz, 19, a native of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico started playing baseball, but when she was 12 began paying softball. When asked about her and Ms. Lozada begin good sports she said that she and Ms. Lozada hope that if something like that would have happened to them, the other team would show similar compassion.

“The emotion that I felt at the moment was unique, because I was worried about if (Ms. Freeman) was going to be able to complete the run to home base,” said Ms. Diaz.

Ms. Lozada, 19, from Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, has been playing softball for 14 years. “I started playing baseball at age five and when I turned 10, I moved to softball,” she said. “Many girls have told me that when they grow up, ‘I want to be like you and play like you.’”

Through their teenage years, softball has allowed Ms. Diaz and Ms. Lozada the opportunity to travel and enjoy many memorable experiences. Both players are members of the Female Softball Association of Maunabo (ASOFEM).

Among their special Little League memories is winning the Latin America Region Championship and making the trip to Portland, Ore., for the Little League Softball® World Series. Ms. Diaz has also been a member of the Latin America Region Championship teams that played in the Junior and Senior Softball World Series, while Ms. Lozada has played in the Junior, Senior and Big League Softball World Series.

“I will never forget my time playing Little League,” said Ms. Diaz. “Little League was great for me because of the many fun experiences. The games, the team parties and the other league activities were all exciting to me. It was an emotional experience since my parents were unable to accompany me for games in different nations, but it was a good experience because I learned about many different cultures.”

Also currently playing on the Puerto Rico National Team with Ms. Diaz and Ms. Lozada are Little League alums Ninotska Amaro and Yaheliz Munoz.

“When asked about Little League, the words that come to mind are: reward, dedication, friendship, passion, sweat, development, values, love of the game and respect,” said Ms. Lozada.

Although they are young in years, Ms. Diaz and Ms. Lozada appreciate the merits of Little League and view their time representing Puerto Rico with a sense of national pride. Both have aspirations of coaching after their playing days are done and that Little League is where they would begin.

“I would like to help young players follow their dreams of playing in Little League and maybe reach a World Series,” said Ms. Diaz. “It would be a beautiful experience for me to help these players get to the Little League Softball World Series and then go to play for the Puerto Rico National team like I’ve done.”

Ms. Lozada agrees.

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Puerto Rico’s Galis Lozada and  Dayanira Diaz are both Little League Softball graduates who have played in the World Series.

“As a coach or manager, I feel I could help to develop the talent, raise expectations and better the level of play,” said Ms. Lozada. “I would also like to give the coming generation of players a chance to achieve what I have through Little League and the National Team.”

Ms. Diaz said her parents have been involved with the local league for many years. Her father, Orlando, was a baseball coach and manager, while her mother, Madeline, managed the league’s softball team. Currently, she has a younger brother, Orlando Diaz, Jr., playing Little League in Bayamón.

Ms. Lozada’s father, José, was a baseball coach, while her two older brothers played Little League. Currently, one of her brothers, José A. Lozada, is playing professional baseball in the Washington Nationals organization.

While exceling with their teammates, and playing for their sport and their country, Ms. Diaz and Ms. Lozada have defined themselves as role models. Establishing a moral, emotional and inspirational foundation during their Little League days, the duo has accepted the mantle of leadership, gained wisdom and nurtured character. This combination of impressive traits, will serve them well in the future, on and off the field.