Charlotte, NC - More and more women are debunking the idea that baseball is for boys and softball is for girls. Now women are enjoying the sound of the crack of a bat against a baseball, just as much as the thud of hitting a softball. However, women's baseball is still barely an afterthought here in the US. Elsewhere however, the sport is huge. Ashley Bratcher is the director of the USA Women's Baseball. She says, “We played Venezuela in a night game and there were 15 thousand people at the game. You couldn't hear from the batters box to the dugout."
Fort Mill's Anna Kimbrell was on that team. She says baseball has always been her love, even as a student at Nations Ford High. She made the boys baseball team instead of even considering Softball. Anna says, “I actually didn't even touch a softball until my freshman year of College. I don't know I did it for scholarship opportunities." Now she's a catcher on the University of Alabama Birmingham Softball team.
The big question however, is why are young girls forced to play a version of baseball with different rules and equipment, rather than just continuing to play the sport itself. USA Baseball's Executive Director Paul Seiler says, “I can't sit here and definitively say this is why softball was given as the alternative to baseball. But as we know, it's kind of gotten to that point where softball becomes the bat and ball option for girls beyond that 12 year old age bracket."
Ashley Bratcher says, “There's definitely a sub-conscious message. I think there are girls who grow up playing baseball, who enjoy very much playing baseball and are just kind of cattled into playing softball."
And for female baseball players, even ones like Anna Kimbrell who buck the system, it seems softball is still where all roads lead. For that to change she says, “I think that if we could get the word out, it would become a lot more popular."