A dancer, runner, educator and more were among the victims of a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two adults.
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, had a newfound passion for softball.
The fourth-grade student was in her first season in Little League this year, according to NBC News. And on the day of the shooting, she was scheduled to play the last softball game of the season.
“It was her first time getting into a sport that year, but over time she loved it,” aunt Laura Cabrales told NBC News.
“Every time she went to practice, she was eager because she was the kind of kid who wanted to do her best,” she added. “She loved everything about the game, whether it was pitching, catching or outfield – she really didn’t care.”
Eliahana was one of six victims involved in Little League, officials said.
Makenna Lee Elrod, Tess Mata and Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio also played softball, while Jose Flores Jr. and Xavier Lopez played baseball, according to Little League National Records and Honors posted online by Uvalde Little League.
“There are no adequate words that can assuage the sense of pain and loss felt by the Uvalde community today,” Little League President and CEO Stephen D. Keener said in a statement. “Since 1959, the Uvalde community has come together in their Little League fields and the tragic loss of those lives will be felt forever.”
Keener identified Little League victims by matching their names on the national registry. Six have registered for this year, while five had registered from 2019 to 2021.
“As a Texan, father, and former local Little League president, I cannot understand the pain felt in the homes of victims of the Robb Elementary school shooting and throughout the Uvalde community,” said High E. Tanne, Chairman of the International Board of Directors said in a statement included in a release with Keener’s.
Although Eliahana didn’t make it to the last game, the team members knelt for a moment of silence to remember her and the other victims.
Other teams have also paid tribute. A town in Beeville, Texas, a few hours from Uvalde, donned jerseys featuring Eliahana’s picture during a recent game. According to KIII TV, they also gathered with their opponents in a circle for a pre-game moment of remembrance.
“A little girl named Eliahana Torres, she was in fourth grade, she was only 10 years old. Today was her last softball game,” coach and parent Lisa Monjaras told the players as they knelt, according to a KIII and a Facebook video Monjaras later posted. “She’s not going to play her game tonight, so you know what? We will play for them.”
In Muscatine, Iowa, 1,200 miles from Uvalde, Little League baseball players sold soda and snacks with the goal of raising $1,000 for victims’ families, according to KCRG.
“My son was watching the news and trying to explain to him what happened is scary and emotional, so he had the idea of how we can help these families – he felt so sorry for the children and the victims,” he said Chelsea Harms, a mother of one of the Iowa players, told the station.
The Oklahoma Sooners softball team, ranked number one in the nation with a remarkable 54-2 record, honored softball players last week with posters in their dugouts showing the four girls killed. Each poster featured a picture in the center with signed messages from the team at the borders. The slogan “PRAY 4 UVALDE”, written in large text in felt-tipped pen, filled in the top, and “PLAY 4…” followed by the appropriate girls’ names at the bottom.
“We try to remember them and play for them because it’s so much more than softball and I’m sad to say they won’t get the opportunity to play at that level. So if we can only have them on our hearts and on our shoulders while we play — we’d just like to remember them,” said Jocelyn Alo, a redshirt senior from Hawaii, in an interview with ESPN after the game.