Mo’Ne Davis, 13, will take the mound today in the Little League World Series. In doing so, she will become the first American girl to play in the series since 2004.
Girls playing Little League is not new. But in the 40 years since girls were first allowed to play in Little League, just 16 have made it to the World Series, Little League spokesman Brian McClintock said. Mo’Ne is one of them.
Mo’Ne plays for the Taney Dragons from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the only girl on the team. The dragons recently made history by being the first team from urban Philadelphia to make it into the Little League World Series.
At Sunday's regional championships, Mo’Ne threw a six-strikeout, complete-game shutout. Her team beat Delaware 8-0. Sunday was Davis' second win over Delaware-Newark National Little League. Mo’Ne says there isn't much of a difference playing against boys. "We're playing the same game," she said.
The Taney manager, Alex Rice, calls Mo’Ne his big-game pitcher and says she throws about 70 miles per hour. "She's one of the core team leaders," he said. "She's unflappable."
Girls in the Game
Mo’Ne was not the only female Little League player in the spotlight this year. Kayla Roncin, 12, plays first base for her team in Toms River, New Jersey. If Toms River had won on August 8, the two girls would have faced each other at the regional championships.
Last week Mo’Ne said that it would be fun to finally play against another girl. "I just want to play them to see where we are in competition level," Mo’Ne said.
Peter Avallone, the Toms River manager, said Kayla plays great defense and gets timely hits. She has 12 career home runs and has been batting .500 over four games, said her father, Ray Roncin, a team coach. He said she loves competition. "She refuses to ever give up on anything," Roncin said.
Game Day Stares
Sometimes, opposing players are curious to see a girl on the other team. But curiosity can quickly turn to concern. Dave Dauerty, a parent of a Delaware player, says Mo’Ne’s pitching shut down much of Delaware’s hitting. "The other boys just couldn't get ahold of the ball against her," he said.
Avallone and others said he hopes the success of the two girls inspires more girls to play Little League.
The 2014 Little League Baseball World Series Championship Game is scheduled for Sunday, August 24. The series will be celebrating the Little League’s 75th Anniversary.