At the Area Code Games he showed a good arm in his throws to second and it only improved to this point. He has been playing fall ball at the Major League Baseball Youth Academy in Compton, Calif.
Corey Oswalt is one of the top players in California. He is an infielder out of James Madison (San Diego, Calif.). He is a strong kid standing in at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. This summer he played in the Area Code Games presented by New Balance and also at the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego. We saw Oswalt at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic in Peoria as he played for the SC Rays Scout team.
The Last Chance Prospect Camp at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif., gave players an opportunity to be seen by colleges and pro scouts. The idea was to give these players a chance to play at the next level.
Here are the standout players of the day:
Eric Nielsen out of Dublin (Calif.) High School sat comfortably between 90-91 mph with his fastball and had the top velocity on the day. With a 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame, he threw out of a three-quarter slot and kept the ball effectively down in the zone. With his size, velocity and pure stuff, he was the most impressive prospect at the pro level at the event.
Andrew O’Brien out of Corona (Calif.) High was one of the many underclassmen in the event. Graduating in the 2013 class, O’Brien had solid stuff with an 86-88 mph fastball and 70-73 mph curveball. He is list at 6-foot-2, 178 pounds and has a strong GPA of 3.6.
Tom Petersen of St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) was one of the more athletic players in attendance. He stood on the mound with an intimidating presence and with that he brought one of the heavier fastballs of the event. With a spread-armed delivery he brought his fastball at 87-88 mph. His delivery brought great deception that allowed his 70 mph slider to be a swing-and-miss pitch.
Mike Petersen out St. Francis was one of the more athletic players in attendance. Does that sounds familiar? It might ring a bell because Mike is the twin brother of the aforementioned Tom. The only thing that separated these twins on the mound was that Mike came in with the second-best velocity of the day. His fastball sat at 89-90 mph that set up his 72 mph changeup, which, like his brother's slider, was a swing-and-miss pitch.
Matt Krook is a well-known pitching prospect out of St. Ignatius (San Francisco). The left-hander recently attended the Arizona Fall Classic in mid-October and had a solid showing, throwing an 87-88 mph fastball. He is a good-bodied player with an athletic 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. His off-speed stuff consists of a 78-80 mph changeup and a 77 mph curveball. Being a 2013 graduate, you will most likely be hearing about Krook around the summer showcase circuit after this spring season.
Dakota Mills out of Dulles (Sugar Land, Texas) was one of the few out-of-state players in attendance. Listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Mills had a very athletic build and looks like he will fill in more in the years to come. Offering a three-pitch mix, Mills came in with an average fastball that sat at 84-87 mph, a changeup that faded in between 74-71 mph and a solid slider at 73 mph. What separated Mills from the rest of the pack was that he threw all three of his pitches for strikes and located them well.
One of the more promising prospects was young 2014 graduate Matt Trask. Hailing from Davis (Calif.) High, Trask has a smooth delivery, good fundamentals for a sophomore, and already good velocity. Listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, he still has a ton of growing to do. Built with wide shoulders and a V-shaped frame, his present velocity is 84-86 and has been seen up to 88 mph. Trask looks like a good bet to be hitting in the 90s once his time comes around to start thinking about where is he going to further his education.
MONTEREY, Calif. – For many of the top prep players this month it is about signing a National Letter of Intent. Others will not have that option and yet they are still trying to find a place to play on the next level.
The Last Chance Prospect Camp gives players, who have not yet signed, an opportunity to be evaluated by scouts and college coaches. Not every player will get a full scholarship for baseball, as many of them are partials because of the few numbers of baseball scholarships afforded to each program.
“Events like this are critical for players to be seen by college coaches and Major League evaluators,” remarked Area Code Baseball’s Andrew Knepper. “It could be one at-bat or one pitch that changes the mind of these evaluators.”
Players that are on the fringe an event like this could make the difference.
“Player development in prep players is more of a day-to-day thing instead of month-to-month. Everyday these kids get better,” added Knepper.
The director of the Last Chance Prospect Camp is Nathan Trosky of Trosky Baseball. When it comes to bloodlines, Trosky has them. His grandfather, Hal Trosky, had what many consider to be the greatest rookie year ever, as in 1934 Trosky’s grandfather hit .330 with 35 homers and 142 RBI.
When Trosky was asked about the goal of this event he remarked, “To create a stage where players can present their talent to scouts and coaches.”
During the event the players will have an opportunity to play in a game.
“When players can play in game situations and be evaluated it reveals the depth of a player’s talent,” Trosky added.
This is different from evaluating a player in a workout environment where the player’s tools are easily identifiable and displayed.
“A lot show well by doing drills and showing their tools. You can see the arm and if they can hit for power,” said Trosky.
While the tools are important in the evaluation of a player it comes down to what they can do in games. Players will be divided up into six teams and have one game to prove they can play.
“When players are evaluated in game situations you can see the passion and how well they deal with adversity,” Trosky added.
Baseball is a game of adversity because it is a game of failure. When you think about it some of the best players in the game fail 70 percent of the time at the plate. That is a lot of adversity.
“Players have a small window to show something,” stated Trosky, “this is a big opportunity for them to do something special.”
Rio Ruiz, out of Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) is not only the Lancers' starting quarterback, but he is also one of the nation's top baseball players. The third baseman was instrumental in the Lancers' CIF-Southern Section Div. IV title last year over Palm Desert (Palm Desert, Calif.). Ruiz has a strong arm and is one of the best hitters in the 2012 class.
Last weekend, Ruiz was injured in a football game against Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.). It was diagnosed as a sprained knee, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
Ruiz was selected to play in the 2010 Area Code Games (Yankees) and the 2011 Area Code Games (Brewers). He would have been on the 18U Team USA national team headed to Columbia for the Pan Am Games. When those games got postponed he jumped back into football. That is up until the injury.
Expect Ruiz to make a full recovery and have a solid 2012 season for the Lancers. They are going to be one of the better teams in Southern California next season.
I've seen him up to 97 mph with his fastball, which sets up an above-average power curveball and a changeup drenched in promise. ESPN Insider's Keith Law wrote from the Area Code Games in August that Giolito's velocity "is easy to him and his delivery is built for starting; his command isn't there and he needs more consistency on each of his secondary pitches. But I don't think there's a better overall package among prep arms in the 2012 class yet."
The industry agrees. One scouting supervisor called Giolito "a contender for a top-10 spot in any draft. He's very, very good, and he's only going to get better. There is a lot to like."
Giolito is the complete pitcher, blessed with size, strength, a balanced delivery and a strong set of weapons, and if things go as expected, he'll continue to impress next spring and start his pro career in the ensuing months.
So, how does the Harvard-Westlake High School product stack up against the best prep pitchers of the past few classes? Let's address that.
Entering his senior season, Giolito doesn't quite measure up to the likes of the very best the past five classes has offered, falling short of first-round picks such as right-handers Gerrit Cole (No. 28 overall, New York Yankees, 2008), Shelby Miller (No. 19, St. Louis Cardinals, 2009), Dylan Bundy (No. 4, Baltimore Orioles, 2011) and Jacob Turner (No. 9, Detroit Tigers, 2009) as well as left-handers Tyler Matzek (No. 11, Colorado Rockies, 2009) and Clayton Kershaw (No. 7, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2006). The difference is the advanced levels of the offspeed stuff, and in the cases of Bundy, Cole and Turner, another gear with the fastball.
Jameson Taillon from The Woodlands High School in Texas also offers more velocity and a breaking ball with a higher ceiling, but Giolito has an advantage in command and control. Taillon, during his senior season, had bouts with walks, leaving his fastball up in the zone. He was still selected No. 2 overall, thanks to the potential reward of a 96-99 mph fastball and power curveball.
"Lucas is probably a step below Taillon, Bundy, Gerrit Cole and Clayton Kershaw" said one West Coast crosschecker. "He's a No. 1 or 2 guy down the line, though."
Like many high school arms taken high in the draft, Giolito offers projectable gifts; he's big and tall and figures to add velocity as he matures and makes adjustments. The fastball comes out of his hand so easy that it's not difficult to believe that as he gains strength and perfects his mechanics, he could end up sitting in the mid-90s and hitting 97-99 regularly.
Giolito's promise is his calling card when pitted against the top picks of the past five years. Only Taillon and 2007 first-rounder Phillippe Aumont brought comparable raw stuff to go with such a tall, strong frame. "That's the fun of the whole thing," an American League scout said. "We see what he is right now, but we have to ask what he is going to be in nine months when it matters more, and what might he turn into between then and his rise to the majors. We just don't know."
In other words, Giolito, who belongs in the conversation with the aforementioned pitchers, still has a chance to compare favorably with the entire group.
Delivery and Mechanics
This is where Giolito makes up some ground. As a prep pitcher, Cole drew a few comparisons to big-league closers and there were those that believed he'd end up in the bullpen because his delivery created some command problems, including a stiff landing leg. These concerns have since subsided, as Cole was the No. 1 overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates this past June, but Giolito does not present such issues.
He reminds me some of Tommy Hanson of the Atlanta Braves and Anthony Ranaudo of the Boston Red Sox, both of whom fit the physical profile, and have somewhat similar stuff and/or mechanics as does Giolito.
"The easy fastball is what separates him from the rest of the class," the scouting supervisor added. "Otherwise he would be another arm strength prospect destined for the bullpen. That isn't the case, though, and it's because his arm works well and the ball jumps out of his hand."
The classes of 2009 and 2010 boasted loads of prep pitchers that warranted first-round consideration, and there appears to be at least one No. 1 or No. 2 starter in each crop since Kershaw in 2006. Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Jarrod Parker was the No. 9 overall pick in 2007, just two selections before the San Francisco Giants selected southpaw Madison Bumgarner.
Also starring from the 2009 class is left-hander Tyler Skaggs, drafted by the Los Angeles Angels and now in the Arizona farm system, and righty Zack Wheeler, the No. 6 pick (Giants) overall.
A year later the prep class was even deeper, including right-handers Karsten Whitson, Dylan Covey, Zach Lee, Taijuan Walker, A.J. Cole, Aaron Sanchez and Tyrell Jenkins. Many of these pitchers are considered frontline arms and a few of them have a shot to be aces at the big-league level.
I believe an arm like that of Lucas Giolito that possesses a mature approach, physical ability and clean arm action, has a great chance to be considered among the better arms drafted over the past five or six years. He'll need a big spring to prove it, however, and he'll have to show consistency.
Here's my quick-look ranking of the past three draft classes in terms of prep pitching, with Giolito's 2012 profile inserted, as if the draft were tomorrow:
1. Jacob Turner, RHP 2. Tyler Matzek, LHP
3. Shelby Miller, RHP
4. Zack Wheeler, RHP
5. Matt Purke, LHP
6. Lucas Giolito, RHP
7. Matt Hobgood, RHP
8. Chad James, LHP
9. Tyler Skaggs, LHP
10. David Holmberg, LHP
1. Jameson Taillon, RHP 2. Karsten Whitson, RHP
3. A.J. Cole, RHP
4. Zach Lee, RHP
5. Dylan Covey, RHP
6. Lucas Giolito, RHP
7. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
8. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
9. Taijuan Walker, RHP
10. Tyrell Jenkins, RHP
1. Dylan Bundy, RHP
2. Archie Bradley, RHP
3. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP
4. Lucas Giolito, RHP
5. Dillon Howard, RHP
6. Tyler Beede, RHP
7. Joe Ross, RHP
8. Jose Fernandez, RHP
9. Daniel Norris, LHP
10. Robert Stephenson, RHP
Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB Draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider where he's the founder and executive editor. He's served in similar roles for numerous publications since 2003, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. You can find Jason's ESPN archives here and follow him on Twitter here.
Trevor Megill out of Marina (Huntington Beach, Calif.) is a towering presence on the mound. Standing in at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds he has an inning-eater frame and a solid fastball with a good downhill plane.
During this game he was sitting comfortably between 88-90 with his fastball, his only breaking ball was clocked it at 78 mph and a changeup that was 83 mph. Megill has the durable frame college coaches and pro scouts like to see and with his size you can see his velocity picking up in the future. He was a two-year Area Code Games member.
Megill will be forgoing his senior high school season by graduating early to attend Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. This seems to be a starting trend among this 2012 graduating class as we have seen C.J. Hinojosa out of Klein Collins (Spring, Texas) high leave early for Texas, Chris Harvey out of Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) left early for Vanderbilt and Fernando Perez out of Otay Ranch (Chula Vista, Calif.) is leaving for Central Arizona Community College.
We asked some ball players about what they have for a superstition or do as a pre-game routine and below is the best of the best responses we received.
“I always eat a large order of hot wings before a big game. The hotter the sauce the better I hit. Proven Fact! I always hit better with a belly full of hot wings!”
-Cullen O’Dwyer, Eldorado (Albuquerque, N.M.)
“I don’t wash my uniform unless my team loses.”
-Jake Schroeder, Ferndale (Ferndale, Wash.)
“My superstition before pitching is to draw a 5 with a circle around it. The reason why I do this is I found a nickel wit my friend one day, and I gave it to him before he had pitched that day. Turned out he threw a one-hitter. So I decided that I would put the lucky nickel in my pocket and throw the next game with it. I threw a no-hitter. Now the reason why I draw the circle is because I lost it (the nickel) one day. And for the remainder of the season we wrote a 5 on the back of the mound. So I guess it just stuck to me.”
-Trevor MeGill, Marina (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
“No superstitions or rituals, those get to your head too much. Just a routine to always go by keeps me going and on top of my game!”
-Matt Tulley, Lowell (Lowell, Mass.)
“I always put whatever change like coins in my back right pocket or when staying at a hotel I put my hotel room key in my back right pocket.”
-Mitchell Kranson, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
“I don't have a ritual before the game, but I do have one right before I go up to hit. I step in left leg then right leg, touch the far corner of the plate with my bat, pull up my left pant leg then my right pant leg, adjust my right sleeve, adjust my helmet then squat in my stance. Then of course I have the big twirl and leg kick in my swing.”
-Ty Moore, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
“My ritual is saying an "Our Father" and then write my grandpa's initials in the mound because he played baseball and he passed away before I met him.”
-Mitchell Aker, Paul VI Catholic (Fairfax, Va.)
“Before every game and before I pitch I write my grandmother's initials on the field so she can see me from heaven. I even bring dirt from where she is buried to put on the mound.”
-Rock Rucker, Redan (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
“My pre-game superstition is I always save the wrapper of the last thing I ate and put it in my back pocket.”
-Sam Brown, Jackson (Mill Creek, Wash.)
The southpaw has a good fastball that sits in the mid to upper 80’s, a sold curveball that breaks between 68-70 mph and a good changeup. He has a clean delivery with some deception and has a very fast arm action. He uses his lower half very well and a long stride to the plate. Currently listed at 6-foot-0 and 170 pounds and judging by his frame he looks like he will fill into his body and potentially gain a few more ticks on the radar gun.
He is currently committed to play baseball at University of San Diego
Twelve players who are from California high schools are among the 50 on the active rosters of either the Texas Rangers or St. Louis Cardinals. Those two began play Wednesday in this year’s World Series in St. Louis.
The only other state with five or more players is Texas with six. California also has more than any other nation, including the Dominican Republic, which counts seven in this year’s World Series.
The Golden State contingent is perhaps best represented by Cardinals catcher Gerald Laird. During Laird’s four seasons from 1995 to 1998 at La Quinta of Westminster, he collected 210 hits to set a state record. According to the ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports record book, Laird also set state records in 1998 for season hits (68), season doubles (54) and most runs scored for a career (169).
None of Laird’s high school state records still stand, but many of his totals are still listed in the book. These also include his 1998 season batting average of .630 and his career batting average of .519.
In Laird’s final high school game, just after he was chosen in the second-round of the annual MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics, he hit a two-run homer at Dodger Stadium in the CIF Southern Section championships. His La Quinta team, however, was upset in that game 9-3 by Ocean View of Huntington Beach, preventing the Aztecs (30-2) from being No. 1 in the state in their division.
A few of Laird’s school records at La Quinta haven’t lasted, either. That’s because a few years later third baseman Ian Stewart and pitcher Ian Kennedy came along to lead the Aztecs under longtime coach Dave Demarest. Stewart and Kennedy led La Quinta to championship seasons of 29-3 in 2002 and 30-2 in 2003. Stewart was the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year in 2003 and is currently playing for the Colorado Rockies. Kennedy was an all-state pitcher and is regarded as a possible Cy Young Award winner for his work during the 2011 MLB season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
We found a few other golden nuggets while looking over this year’s World Series Alumni list:
Mike Napoli of the Rangers is from a Florida high school that is currently considered among the best programs in the nation. Two years ago, his alma mater, Flanagan of Pembroke Pines, went 25-2 and was No. 5 in the final POWERADE FAB 50. When Napoli played for the Falcons, the program was just starting roll with a 23-7 record in 2000. The school later won state titles in 2005, 2006 and 2010.
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday is still regarded as one of the best football-baseball players in Oklahoma high school history. Holliday passed for 6,211 yards and 68 touchdowns during his career as a quarterback at Stillwater. He also was chosen the Gatorade State Player of the Year in both sports.
Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals is from Hamilton City, Calif., not far from the Northern California town of Chico, the hometown of Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Perhaps the hottest pitcher going into this year’s World Series, Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, went to high school in the frosty weather of New Hampshire. This is the second year in a row, however, that a shut-down pitcher in the World Series is from New Hampshire. Last year, New Hampshire’s Brian Wilson got the final out for the San Francisco Giants when they topped the Rangers in five games.
Here is the complete list of the 2011 ESPNHS World Series Alumni (listed alphabetically according to state location of each player’s high school):
Ian Kinsler (Canyon del Oro, Tucson) Rangers INF
Craig Gentry (Fort Smith Christian, Fort Smith) Rangers OF
Allen Craig (Chaparral, Temecula) Cardinals OF
Daniel Descalso (St. Francis, Mountain View) Cardinals INF
Scott Feldman (Burlingame) Rangers P
Gerald Laird (La Quinta, Westminster) Cardinals C
Colby Lewis (North, Bakersfield) Rangers P
Kyle Lohse (Hamilton, Hamilton City) Cardinals P
Darren Oliver (Rio Linda) Rangers P
Nick Punto (Trabuco Hills, Mission Viejo) Cardinals INF
Marc Rzepczynski (Servite, Anaheim) Cardinals P
Skip Schumaker (Aliso Niguel, Aliso Viejo) Cardinals OF
C.J. Wilson (Fountain Valley) Rangers P
Michael Young (Bishop Amat, La Puente) Rangers DH
Jon Jay (Columbus, Miami) Cardinals OF
Mike Napoli (Flanagan, Pembroke Pines) Rangers C
Mitchell Boggs (Dalton) Cardinals P
Edwin Jackson (Shaw, Columbus) Cardinals P
Lance Lynn (Brownsburg) Cardinals P
Ryan Theriot (Broadmoor, Baton Rouge) Cardinals INF
Mitch Moreland (Amory) Rangers INF
David Freese (Lafayette, Wildwood) Cardinals INF
Kyle McClellan (Hazelwood West, Hazelwood) Cardinals P
Albert Pujols (Fort Osage, Independence) Cardinals INF
Chris Carpenter (Trinity, Manchester) Cardinals P
Jason Motte (Valley Central, Montgomery) Cardinals P
Josh Hamilton (Athens Drive, Raleigh) Rangers OF
Matt Harrison (South Granville, Creedmoor) Rangers P
Matt Holliday (Stillwater) Cardinals OF
Derek Holland (Newark) Rangers P
Mike Adams (Sinton) Rangers P
Lance Berkman (Canyon, New Braunfels) Cardinals OF
Jaime Garcia (Sharyland, Mission) Cardinals P
Michael Gonzalez (Harvest Christian Academy, Pasadena) Rangers P
David Murphy (Klein) Rangers OF
Arthur Rhodes (La Vega, Waco) Cardinals P
Players from other countries
Adrian Beltre, Rangers INF
Nelson Cruz, Rangers OF
Octavio Dotel, Cardinals P
Netfali Feliz, Rangers P
Rafael Furcal, Cardinals INF
Esteban German, Rangers INF
Alexi Ogando, Rangers P
Yoshinori Tateyama, Rangers P
Koji Uehara, Rangers P
Fernando Salas, Cardinals P
Yadier Molina, Cardinals C
Elvis Andrus, Rangers INF
Endy Chavez, Rangers OF
Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers C
Paul Muyskens contributed to this report.
California teen Marti Sementelli thought she was walking into a scene of a new movie on that 2008 summer day.
But the lights weren’t for cameras and the 100 or so girls were not actresses.
“They were all just like me,” Sementelli said. “I was like, ‘Woah!’ I was shell-shocked because I had so much in common with them.”
It wasn’t just because they all had ponytails draped outside of their hats.
They were all baseball players competing for a roster spot on the USA Baseball women's national team.
“I didn’t even know there were others girls who played baseball,” said Sementelli, who has made the USA roster for the last three summers. “I really thought I was dreaming. It didn’t look real.”
Yes, girls play baseball, even at the high school level.
According to the National Federation of High School Sports Participation Survey, 698 girls played high school baseball in the USA last season.
One of them was Sementelli, a pitcher for Birmingham (Lake Balboa, Calif.) High School who made headlines last year when she was a part of the first high school baseball game that featured two female starting pitchers.
“I’m not a softball player or a volleyball player,” the 2011 graduate said. “I am a baseball player.”
Sandy Almon remembers one of the first times she toed the rubber in a high school baseball game. It’s a story she loves to revisit and tell.
“When I got to the mound guys on the other team laughed at me and taunted me about my appearance,” she said. “First guy came up and I struck him out on three pitches. Next guy? Infield fly out. Third guy? Ground out. It was an eye-opener for them.”
And a teeth-shower for her. She ended up pitching six scoreless innings that day.
“I smiled big,” said the 2011 graduate of Mt. Pisgah (Ga.). “I love it when people tell me I can’t do something when I know I can.”
Like Sementelli, Almon played for the USA national team last season and expects to be on the team next summer.
And like Sementelli, Almon often hears the repetitive question from peers: Why baseball and not softball like all the other girls?
“Softball isn’t baseball and I like playing baseball,” Almon said. “It just didn’t make sense to just stop playing baseball because I was a girl. So what’s the big deal?”
Almon is a big deal. She reportedly has been clocked at 86 mph on the radar gun and currently plays for the Chicago Pioneers, a women’s baseball traveling team.
During her senior year she struck out nine batters in her first six innings of work.
“I don’t look at it like everyone else sees it,” she said. “Yes you see me as a girl playing baseball. But I see me as a baseball player part of a baseball team. I run as hard as everyone. I throw as hard. I work as hard.”
Playing baseball has been the norm for her since her dad starting teaching her the game. She played on boys teams all through Little League and eventually landed a spot on a high school squad after searching for schools which would allow a girl to try out for the team.
“As I got older people said I needed to go to softball because baseball was moving to a bigger field and I wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said. “Well. I never thought about switching. And I never will.”
She shined as a relief pitcher and also started some games at second base.
“People tell me I make a difference out there for other girls,” she said. “But I am really just trying to be like any pitcher – which is to get the next guy out. Only difference is I prove a girl can do it.”
Most players on the USA women’s national team are closer to the age of 25 than 20.
But Sementelli and Almon are proof high school teens are getting better at the sport. They are two of seven girls born after 1991 who made last year’s squad, marking it one of the youngest squad in the team’s seven–year history.
“I was really young when I first played in 2008,” Sementelli said. “I am still really young now and I am considered one of the veterans. But it appears more younger players are starting to make the squad.”
Enter Wynne McCann.
Last year the Boyertown (Penn.) teen became the youngest to play for the squad when she sported the red, white and blue at 16 years old.
“It was definitely scary being the youngest out there,” she said. “I never thought I would make the team because there is so much talent out there. But they gave me a shot. I took it.”
When Almon got her shot, she also took it.
But it didn’t come easy to her at first.
“I am used to playing with all guys so it was a little weird,” she said. “But it was great looking around and seeing all the talent. Everyone was so fundamental. I am sure we can beat a lot of men’s teams.”
The team won bronze medals at the World Cup in 2008 and 2010 and expects a strong showing at next year’s Cup in Canada.
“It’s truly amazing to play for your country,” Sementelli said. “It’s the best feeling.”
Her favorite part is learning from the veteran players and hearing stories about baseball.
“It’s just great to sit there and talk baseball with people who went through the same experiences as you,” she said. “It’s normal when we are together. No one is whispering about a girl playing baseball.”
Sementelli, Almon and McCann are not finished making names for themselves on the diamonds across the country.
After her senior season this year McCann plans on playing college softball but will continue her baseball career with the national team.
Sementelli recently accepted a partial scholarship to play baseball at Montreat College in the mountains of North Carolina, and Almon expects to begin her college career next year. She also has bigger dreams.
“I am pushing for the majors like I always have,” she said. “It’s been my dream, and it will continue to be my dream. I’ll make it, and when people say I throw like a girl, I’ll say, ‘Yes. Yes I do.’”