Monday, March 02, 2009

Challenges for girls playing high school baseball

Linking to an article I wrote for Sunday's New York Times about the challenges confronting girls who play baseball in high school.

As the article states, there is no perfect place for these girls. There aren't girls baseball teams. So they end up playing on teams dominated by boys. The so-called ball and bat sport offered to girls in high school, softball, is an entirely different sport, they say, played with a larger ball on a smaller diamond.

Still, girls who choose baseball are sometimes doing so at a price. The best girls softball players have a shot at college scholarships. There are more than 260 NCAA Division I softball programs alone. There's not much of a future in college sports for even the most talented girls who play baseball in high school. A few women have played college baseball over the years. For the most part, it doesn't happen.

There are interesting statistics about girl players. Last year, across the country, 1,012 girls played boys baseball, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. That number could be low. Some schools forget to count girls playing on boys teams.

I'm linking to the NFHS data here. (Scroll ahead to the last page and check under the column heading "Baseball.") Note that 26 states report no girls participating. New Hampshire, Kentucky and Maine each show two girls. Connecticut reports one.

One of the players featured in the article is Marti Sementelli, a sophomore pitcher at Burbank High School near Los Angeles. In 2007, Nike featured Marti in this TV spot.

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