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Why baseball and not softball?

I think I was like 7 when I was moving from T-ball and I was just kind of copying my brother, and I wanted to do what he was doing, so I went with the boys.

What do you like about baseball?

Everything. I think my favorite part of the game is when a play goes right. It’s just like this burst of adrenaline when everything goes smooth. It’s really fun.

What positions do you play?

I’ve played them all, but I was a pitcher for a little while and I also play second, mostly second.

How have the boys received you being the only girl on the team?

Well, where we used to live in Florida, I was pretty known around so they pretty much knew I was pretty good. So, I was accepted pretty well there. When I first got here, people kind of wondered. But as soon as I got to playing, people see it’s not like I suck just because I’m a girl.

Did they give you a hard time?

Sometimes. I’ve actually had some coaches that have treated me differently at times. I know one time we had an assistant coach and our head coach was gone. And as soon as our head coach — because he was on TDY or something — as soon as he left, the assistant coach started benching me or just put me in the outfield.

Do you think some of the pitchers went easy on you because you’re a girl or did they go harder on you?

Some people have gone easy on me and as soon as I .. knock them down, they’re, like, “Oh, I can’t do that.” I’ve also been trash-talked. And I usually prove them wrong.

You hit 65 mph on the speed gun?

Yeah. We had a speedometer thing, and I think I was about 12 or 13 and I hit 60-65. But it never went up after that.

They say hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports. What is your key to hitting the ball?

My biggest problem when I don’t hit it is when I’m trying too hard. You always hear “keep your eye on it” or “watch the ball” or whatever. It’s true. You really have to watch it all the way through. A lot of coaches have taught me stuff like shoulder to shoulder, where you touch your chin to both shoulders when you swing. I don’t know. It’s just kind of natural now. I’m just used to it. But I think my biggest problem, like I said, is when I try too hard, that’s usually when I strike out. So, you just got to get up there and have fun.

You’ve been asked out on a date while on the field?

That happened once actually. I was playing second and the kid was running and he was like, “So, you have a boyfriend?” I was like, “No.” And he was like, “You want one?” I was like, “No, not you.”

Interview by Scott Schonauer.

Melissa Eslinger

Age: 15

Title: Rising junior, who has played baseball since she was young, started for a youth baseball team in Kaiserslautern, Germany, that went 10-2.

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to news@mail.estripes.osd.mil.


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