As amazing female athletes take home gold for the U.S. at the Rio Olympics, let’s not overlook four girls taking the fields at Gardens Park this week.
They’re at the top of their baseball game, playing integral roles in earning their teams spots in the Cal Ripken 10U World Series. One is a pitcher, one is a catcher and two others are outfielders. A woman coaches her son’s team.
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It was refreshing to hear that their teammates, competitors and coaches show them as much respect as their male counterparts. If only it worked that way in the real world. Here’s what Mariah Anpoque, an outfielder for Hawaii, had to say:
“It’s actually cool, ‘cause we get to do what most girls don’t really do,” she said. “We treat each other like there’s no difference.”
Rylan Nakamura, who plays third base and left field for Hawaii, said she didn’t have to prove herself when she started playing, “‘cause they treated me just like one of the boys.” She does feel special because there aren’t that many girls in the World Series, she said.
Shonty Passi, a right-fielder and pitcher for Hawaii, said she plans to stick with baseball until she has no choice but to switch to softball, she said. When she was pitching Tuesday, one of the boys from a team whose game had just ended started watching.
Now let’s go back to the Olympics. Contrast all of this to the games in Rio, in which Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s coach-husband Shane Tusup was credited as “responsible” for her gold medal. Sigh.
It’s very different from the experience of Rebecca Slough, who manages her son Cameron’s baseball team from Glen Allen, Va. She oversees two assistant coaches — one of whom is her husband. She writes the line-ups, observes the games and decides who should start.
She said she’s been welcomed by her players’ parents and other coaches in her four years of managing. At the Southeast Regional Championships, the coaches said they were glad to see her back.
Slough is encouraged by girls’ progress in baseball.
“It was great to get here and see four young ladies playing in this series,” she said.