(ATR) Two Cuban players left their national team on the last day of the qualifying stage of the Women’s Baseball World Cup.
The tournament is being held in Viera, Florida (ATR)
The defection of both athletes occurred in the early hours of Sunday, confirmed to Around the Rings
by a source in the Cuban delegation.
According to witnesses, the two women rode in a car parked on the outskirts of the hotel where the 12 national teams are staying in the city of Melbourne, about 20 minutes from Viera, the site of the World Cup.
The athletes were part of the team's regular line-up: shortstop Claudia Jorge Fajardo and right fielder Nilsa Esleidis Rodríguez Treval.
For Fajardo, a native of Ciego de Avila province, this was her second World Cup, while Rodriguez, from Granma province, attended her third world championship. Rodriguez also competed in the tournament of the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015.
To date, the whereabouts of both baseball players is unknown.
The source told ATR
that Rodriguez had a relative, a former member of the Granma team in the Cuban National Series, based in Miami.
Hours after both players defected, Cuba faced the weakest team of its group, Hong Kong, and surprisingly lost the game, 8-5.
Had Cuba won, as expected, it would have qualified for the "Super Round" by finishing third in Group B behind Japan and Canada.
According to the source, the defection of the two baseball players affected the team’s play.
On the first day of the consolation round, Cuba defeated South Korea 7x4 as the team now will try to finish seventh. At the 2016 World Cup in Gijang, South Korea, Cuba finished eighth.
The elimination by the United States of the policy "wet foot, dry food" and the historic migratory benefits to Cubans have led to a decrease in desertions of Cuban athletes on US soil.
However, defections in sports such as baseball and boxing have not stopped completely. This year two Olympic boxers deserted in Mexico with the intention of enrolling in professional boxing in the United States.
Written by Miguel Hernandez in Viera, Florida
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