Aluminum bat broke in two at her last at-bat

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

Spectators at the little league softball game Monday night in Three Rivers were witnesses to an event that happens perhaps once or twice in a lifetime.

The Three Rivers Royals were up 12-9 in the final inning against the Orange Grove Rangers. The Rangers had a runner at third base, two balls and two strikes, with power hitter Aaliyah Bernal, 12, at the bat.

There was nothing special about the pitch, she said afterward, or her swing. But the bat she used would tell a different story if it could speak.

Bernal broke the aluminum bat in two. Despite the amazing sight, the Royals pulled themselves together enough to catch the ball, which flew straight up into the air.

The game was over, Orange Grove lost the fight, but Robert Bernal, Aaliyah's dad, would be the first to tell you, the score was the last thing on the mind of those kids.

"The umpires were freaking out. Several people in the audience came up to look at the bat," Bernal said. "We're still checking things out, but she might be the first person to break a bat in little league history. Orange Grove lost the game, but she did that."

Aaliyah is all about softball. She's been playing the game since she was 9 years old, starting for teams around Abilene, from where her family moved before starting at Orange Grove this year. It is the only sport she plays, and the only one she would consider playing.

"I love it so much, because it's a good way to travel, meet new people, do things I have never done before. I've learned things in this sport from people with more experience. It's so competitive, That's the part I like the most," Aaliyah said.

As for the breaking of the bat, Aaliyah said she didn't notice anything different about her swing. In her past, she's never dented an aluminum bat with a big swing, or come close to doing anything like this. Although she is known as the power hitter for her team, Aaliyah said she was just as shocked as everyone else about that last at-bat.

"I thought I was going to cry, I didn't think I was capable of doing anything like that. Everyone was shocked, so was the other team, they thought it was cool. They never saw anything like it. They just kept saying 'Oh wow that was so cool,'" Aaliyah said.

The Rangers still have six more games this season. Aaliyah said she hopes to play for the Orange Grove Lady Bulldogs Softball Team and go on to play college ball,

"There wasn't really anything special about the hit. I don't think it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Aaliyah said.