JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – She wore Jacksonville green and gold in the spring, but this summer 18-year-old Seana Mora will be wearing red, white, & blue at the 2017 Junior Women's Softball World Championships in Clearwater, Fla. representing Team Puerto Rico.
"We are all unbelievably excited for Seana and the opportunity she has to represent Puerto Rico," said Dolphin Head Coach Erica Ayers. "I can't imagine anything more exciting than playing for your country. We are happy that so many more people are going to get to see just how good Seana Mora is!"
Event: 2017 Junior Women's Softball World Championships
Site: Eddie C. Moore Complex | Clearwater, Fla.
Dates: July 24-30
Pool Play Schedule
July 24 | 4:30 p.m. – Puerto Rico vs. New Zealand
July 25 | 11:30 a.m. – Puerto Rico vs. India
July 26 | 11:30 a.m. – Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico
July 26 | 6:30 p.m. – Puerto Rico vs. Argentina
July 27 | 6:00 p.m. – Czech Republic vs. Puerto Rico
Hailing from Apopka, Fla., Mora is part Filipino, Guamanian, Puerto Rican, and Irish. "Getting to represent one of those is a really great opportunity," Mora said.
Despite a bit of a language barrier, the Dolphins' closer-turned-starter, who made threw three complete games in five starts last season, isn't letting that stop her from immersing herself in the culture of Team Puerto Rico.
"It's weird because I don't speak Spanish. I understand what [my teammates] are talking about, but I have to talk back to them in English," Mora laughed.
The right-handed pitcher grew up playing America's pastime with several travel softball teams before beginning her collegiate career at JU in the fall of 2016. This summer, Mora will be reuniting with friend and former teammate Natalia Rodriguez on the diamond for Team Puerto Rico.
"We played travel ball since we were nine and her dad coached me. Her dad is actually the one that mentioned [the tryout] to me, and then the Federation of Puerto Rican Softball contacted me," explained Mora. "It's a tremendous experience to play for Puerto Rico, to be around the culture, to be with my best friend for a decade and play with her one last time before she goes to college; it's amazing."
The combined tryout, with women vying for a spot on either the U19 or the National Team, consisted of three days of live game action in Plant City, Fla. "They do measurable stuff, so they have the pitchers warm up and then they actually play games. There were coaches being umpires, and coaches behind the backstop talking to you and coaching you while you're playing so they could get a feel for how you play individually," explained Mora.
After finishing the season with a team-best 3.02 earned-run average, Mora took what she learned during her freshman season at JU and applied to during her tryout.
"[Former Head Coach Jennifer Steele] taught me to place my fastball and mix in speeds, and that's exactly what I did and it was super effective."
While warming up with the catchers and going over a game plan, Mora was asked what pitches she planned on throwing during the live game situation. When she replied just her fastball, drop, and change up, the catchers were incredulous.
"They were like, 'That's it?' and I said, 'Yep, that's it!' and they were like, 'Are you sure?'" laughed Mora. "That's all I throw," she explained, "but I told them I'm going to place my fast ball and change up the speeds and it's going to work, and sure enough, it worked."
Sure enough, it worked. Two weeks later, Mora received a letter in the mail from the Federation congratulating her for making the U19 team.
"I'm very happy that Seana is being recognized for her efforts at the national level. She came in the fall of her freshman year understanding that her role would be to change the tempo of the game and prepare our hitters during practice. That wasn't enough for her, and she was diligent in her approach," Steele said.
After starting the season in more of a relief role, Mora worked to become reliable in the circle for the Dolphins. After giving up five earned runs in 4.0 innings against Troy in mid-February, Mora bounced back two appearances later with a two-hit shutout of Delaware State. She later threw in all three games and earned the save in a 4-3 win in game one of a crucial ASUN Conference series against USC Upstate.
Mora further impressed as the season continued and she struck out four in a wild, extra-innings series finale to help the Dolphins sweep Stetson and head into the league tournament on a three-game winning streak. Down 4-1 in the elimination game of the ASUN Tournament, Mora tossed the final 2.2 innings and retired all seven batters she faced – a testament to her work ethic over the season to improve and become a pitcher her team can rely on.
"She worked hard in the bullpen and went from throwing 55 mph to 61 mph, while also adding a tight, spinning drop ball," said Steele. "She became so consistent that she is who we wanted to rely on in big moments. All of the credit should go to her tenacity and perseverance."
Added Mora, "It's a great opportunity to be around that culture again, but more importantly, to represent Puerto Rico on the softball field."