Why Mo'ne Davis' Play Matters To Girls

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SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. -- For Jaden Wray, the choice was not really a choice at all.

"I chose baseball because it looked funner," said the gap-toothed 8-year-old from Seneca, who came to the Little League Baseball World Series on Sunday night with her father for the same reason scores of other young girls were there.

"I watched Mo'ne twice," Danyse Washington, 8, said in reference, of course, to Mo'ne Davis, the star attraction of the Mid-Atlantic team from Philadelphia. "I wanted her to teach me baseball."

Davis' team pulled out a dramatic 7-6 bottom-of-the-sixth victory over Texas to advance to a Wednesday showdown with Nevada, with the winner to play for the U.S. championship. Davis had a hit -- which made her the sixth girl to get a hit in the LLWS -- an RBI and a walk.

It was good fun for the little girls who gathered on the sloping hills and in the grandstands and roamed the grounds of the Williamsport complex. Baseball or softball, the possibilities seemed as infinite as their dreams would allow.

But for the older girls watching the only American girl in this year's tournament, maturity gave way to a deeper appreciation for a 13-year-old not just treading in largely unchartered territory, but potentially treacherous ground as well.

"I like how she goes against what everyone says," Joclin Johnson, 13, of South Williamsport, said of Davis. "It's kind of daring. I think it would get really overwhelming."

"It's good to know they accept her; that's a big deal," Kimberly Foster, 16, of Montoursville, said of Davis' teammates. "Boys diss softball players just because they don't think we're as good. I think most girls would be afraid of playing baseball and not willing to take the chance."

Foster's sister Faith, 14, predicted other girls would "definitely be jealous [of a female baseball player]. And the boys wouldn't like it if the girl was as good as them."

For some, such as Faith Foster, softball wasn't a conscious choice. "I just kind of went that way," she said.

But for others, such as Heather Lorah, 15, who played Little League baseball until she was in seventh grade, watching Davis brought a mixture of admiration and regret.

"Yeah, absolutely," Lorah said with a shy grin. "I wanted to stick with baseball, but my parents weren't really sure I'd fit in with the boys."

"I would have liked to play baseball too," her friend Sara Silka, 15, said, "but I thought I'd fit in better with the girls."

Lorah switched to softball in high school, but the transition wasn't the smoothest either, she said.

"It was ok. Some girls were rude at first," she said. "And I still like baseball."

More than a thousand girls in the U.S. play high school baseball, according to Justine Siegal, the founder of Baseball For All, which "fosters, encourages and provides opportunities for girls to participate in baseball."

But Lorah's friend Elizabeth Andrewcavage, 14, a swimmer who plays wiffleball in her neighborhood and said she has always loved watching her brother play baseball, said the choice is an easy one for girls in her high school.

"The problem in our high school is they don't allow girls to play baseball," she said.

"I don't think that's right," Lorah said. "It's sexist."

Even for the younger girls, the choices might get more complicated as they get older. How long did Wray see herself staying in baseball?

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