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High School Baseball

All sports are about the 1 percent.  The one percent of players that standout on any team, on any roster, on any field.  Of the girls who play baseball, they are always the one percent of their teams by virtue of being the only girls on it.  But when you look at the numbers collectively, girls who play high school baseball compared to boys, girls are the 0.26%.

The baseball ceiling for girls has been at a basement level for a very long time.  It is strange though because women have been playing baseball since the sport was invented.  Swarthmore college had a Women’s Baseball team in 1871.

But after the brief stint of the AAGPL, women’s baseball disappeared from the public eye.  In the 1990s there resurfaced another professional women’s league that lasted a few years.  Due to many reasons, including a decline in sponsors, the league also disbanded – but many of its members are still active today in women’s baseball.

Today, for roughly every half a million boys who play high school baseball, there are about 1,000 girls who also play baseball in high school.  But going farther back to little league, there are about 100,000 girls who initially enroll in baseball at an early age.  Why the gigantic drop off?

From our experience, the reason that girls do not continue to play baseball is multifold.  There is a huge lack of efforts to educate the public that girls can continue to play, so long as they want to and have the basic skills, all through little league and high school and college and beyond.  The NCAA has ruled that softball and baseball are two different sports and that if a woman chooses to, she cannot be denied her legal right to try out for a baseball team in college.  Same rule applies to high school.

But having a girl who plays baseball, we can point to several reasons why there aren’t more girls playing beyond little league.  

Right after lob ball, if a girl is doing well in baseball, the softball coaches will look to recruit them.  They will make the argument that “Well she’s having fun now but as the boys get older, they will make her feel as she doesn’t belong.”  I remember one parent (a Dad) that was co-coaching with me when my daughter was eight years old.  His son was also on the team.  He pulled me aside one day and told me, with great poetic prose, a story about a girl he knew who also loved baseball.  How she dominated the boys and was an amazing player.  But someone talked her into playing softball.  At first she didn’t want to, but then she went on to bond with the girls and get along really well with them and just had a blast playing.  She never looked back to baseball.  

It was a great sales pitch.  

We are still playing baseball today and look forward to playing his son one day, if he’s still playing ball.  

Another obstacle girls face are coaches who feel that the sanctity of the game is at risk when there’s a girl on the field.  Because of this mindset, a lot of coaches will make girls have a terrible time when playing baseball.  

High school ball has been the level where girls just couldn’t hope to play – if you listened to critics.  After all, a high school senior could be 6’5, 230lbs easily.  How could a girl compete?  Many girls have simply not made it past middle school.  Also, if a girl approaches a high school coach about wanting to be on the baseball team, many of them will simply point them over to the softball coach – who will happily take a girl who plays baseball.

When Olivia was in 7th grade, she was invited to workout with a high school team in our neighborhood.  I was paying close attention and seeing where she ranked on that team, in terms of skill level.  She was able to outperform the bottom four or five of the team.  She was able to hit curves off the machine when a few players couldn’t.  

When you hear the same thing over and over, you can start to believe it.  Even if it’s just a small part of you, those negative thoughts can sip through.  But after I saw her on that field, I was 100% sure she could play high school baseball.

She made her debut for her school in 7th Grade, on the Varsity team.  Their first game of the season was in Central Park.  The weather could not have been more perfect and I could not have been happier seeing all of the work we’ve put in pay off when she took the mound late in the game with people on base.

I don’t discuss the game on the way home, so I don’t know if she was nervous or not.  She got her outs though and looked amazingly composed on the mound.

A year later, now in 8th Grade, she was one of the go to pitchers on the team.

Ironically, now that she is actually in high school, her school wasn’t able to field a team this year.  It’s a real bummer but her summer travel team will provide plenty of high school baseball experience.  

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