KANSAS CITY -- The Seattle Mariners RBI softball team flew nearly 2,000 miles for this weekend's Jr. RBI Classic in Kansas City.
Ricardo and Esperanza Dominguez -- the grandparents of catcher Saffron Zoe-Dominguez -- made a long trip of their own.
After leaving their hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, Ricardo and Esperanza drove nearly 1,100 miles in their Honda Odyssey to watch their granddaughter and her team compete in the tournament for 11- and 12-year olds.
As Saffron crouched behind the plate on another scorching day in Kansas City, the grandparents spoke glowingly of their 12-year-old granddaughter. She plays on two soccer teams and a volleyball team. She maintains a straight-A average in school, where she'll start the eighth grade this fall. Whenever she finds extra time, she helps her dad at a dental lab.
"Whatever they're doing up there in Seattle, they're doing it right," Ricardo said.
Saffron said she's trying to work hard in school and sports. Her sister attends Harvard University, so that definitely encouraged her to put forth lots of effort in the classroom. She's enjoyed the softball in Kansas City so far, but she's also cherished the chance to stay at the dormitories at Rockhurst University.
"It's a really cool experience to stay in the dorm because I've only seen a dorm from taking my sister to college, so it's cool to actually stay in it so I know how it's going to be," Saffron said.
After winning their first two games of the tournament, the Mariners lost to a talented RBI Atlanta team on Saturday, 13-0. Thanks to a lot of prodding from the coaching staffs, both teams made sure to drink lots of water.
Ricardo said the umpires in the Mariners' second game on Friday stopped play in the middle of the game so the players could hydrate.
"They took a water break. I've never seen that before," Ricardo said. "So the umps are doing good. They're taking care of the girls."
The teams were planning to go swimming on Saturday afternoon before playing another session of games on Saturday night. Despite coming from a city with temperatures that were in the 60's on Saturday, Saffron said the Kansas City heat hasn't been all that bad. The bright sun affects her ability to track pitches, but the heat is just something to get used to.
"It's just as fun as playing catcher in Seattle," Saffron said. "It's the same. After a while, when you get into it, you just kind of forget about the heat and play as best as you can."
Tournament games continue through Monday, when the teams will also get a chance to tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.