Home Emergency Uvalde shooting victims included 6 current Little League players

Uvalde shooting victims included 6 current Little League players

For hours that stretched into the evening, Eliahana Cruz Torres would practice high-speed underhand throws with her grandfather in a makeshift bullpen he made from store-bought netting in their front yard. 

It was her first season in Little League, and every night before her games, a nervous Eliahana, 10, a fourth grader, would come looking for reassurance from her family that her game would go well, aunt Laura Cabrales said.

“It was her first time this year to get into a sport, but within time she loved it,” Cabrales said Sunday.

“Every time she would go practice, she was always eager, because she was the type of kid that wanted to do her best,” she added. “She loved everything about the game, whether she was pitching, catching or in the outfield — it really didn’t matter to her.”

May 27, 202200:51

Eliahana got to pitch in one game, and she was just hours from taking the circle a second time when she, 18 other students and two teachers were killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. 

At least six and as many as 11 victims were Little League baseball or softball players, making last week’s shooting the darkest day in league history, officials said Friday.

The grim discovery was made by matching names of victims to Little League’s database of players registered to play in and around Uvalde, President and CEO Stephen Keener said.

The victims’ names corresponded with 11 in the national registry. Five signed up from 2019 to 2021, and six registered to play this year.

That means six would have been playing this season, while the five others could still be active because they didn’t need to register nationally again unless they had moved, Keener said.

Eliahana Cruz Torres.Courtesy Cruz family

Keener and board Chairman Hugh E. Tanner said they don’t believe there has ever been another time when so many of their young players were killed in one day.

“Hard to recall anything darker,” Keener said. “There really are no words to describe and express how we feel. It’s just horrific.” 

Tanner, a Houston lawyer, said that he regularly takes note of tragedies that befall Little League alumni and that he couldn’t remember when multiple current players died in such a single, terrible act.

“Certainly over the years we’ve had alumni who lost their lives, for instance on 9/11 in one of the towers,” Tanner said, “but in terms of concentrating so many [in one place and time], I can’t imagine something like this has ever happened before.”

As profiles of the players emerged, Tanner said, he was moved by the number of families that issued pictures of their fallen loved ones in baseball or softball uniforms, such as Eliahana.

The victims, 9 or 10, would likely have been playing in Uvalde Little League’s “minor league” division, one step below “major division,” best known for the nationally televised Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and the Little League Softball World Series in Greenville, North Carolina.

There’s been Little League in Uvalde since 1959.

“They’ve been a strong part of our program for many, many years,” Keener said. “One of the kids was supposed to have played their last regular season game that evening.”

Officials with Uvalde Little League, including its president, past president and vice president, didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment Sunday. 

Matthew Mulligan and Helen Kwong contributed.

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