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Girls leave it all on the field at Dodgertown

65 female prep athletes take to diamond to participate in groundbreaking camp
Special to MLB.com

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Don't tell Meredith McFadden that she can't possibly play baseball on a boys' team. She will quickly inform you that she happens to be the only girl on her high school team in Charlotte, N.C. And she will just as quickly let you know that she deserves to be on the otherwise all-male roster.

"They know that I'm on the team because I earned it, not just because of political correctness," McFadden said Thursday between instructional drills of the inaugural Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series camp at Historic Dodgertown.

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Don't tell Meredith McFadden that she can't possibly play baseball on a boys' team. She will quickly inform you that she happens to be the only girl on her high school team in Charlotte, N.C. And she will just as quickly let you know that she deserves to be on the otherwise all-male roster.

"They know that I'm on the team because I earned it, not just because of political correctness," McFadden said Thursday between instructional drills of the inaugural Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series camp at Historic Dodgertown.

McFadden is one of several of the 65 girls participating in the four-day camp here who happen to be the only girls on their high school baseball teams. They've been chosen to participate in the groundbreaking camp, which is sponsored by MLB and USA Baseball and includes several highly regarded instructors, because -- as McFadden succinctly put it -- the girls earned it with their play.

Nonetheless, most concur that it's a challenge getting past the stereotype that girls can't play baseball as well as boys.

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"I feel like we're underestimated a lot, and that just because they're boys, they're better than us," said Tatyana Beltran, of Dallas.

McFadden said whenever a girl strikes out or fails to make a play in the field, detractors are quick to point out "that's why she can't play," whereas boys often receive encouragement to keep trying, and working to improve.

"Everyone who plays baseball, there's a range of skills. But for girls, you kind of have to be above and beyond what everybody expects you to be," said Elle Van Giesen, also the only girl on her high school baseball team in San Francisco. "Female baseball players have to work, I would say, harder than the guys do."

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Tori Bravo was the first girl to earn a spot on her high school baseball team in Hoboken, N.J. She said she's not intimidated at all by being the only girl.

"I think some things that people don't know about female baseball players is, we're genuinely tough," Bravo said. "We dive on the ground for gappers in left-center or right-center, or [slide] and [get] dirty. If we don't leave the game with dirt on our uniforms, you did something wrong."

Van Giesen said she gets a kick out of the reaction of others when they see a girl suited up on a boys' team, but most of the girls praised the support they've received from their communities, particularly their male teammates.

"The coaches and all the boys are so amazing to me. I couldn't ask for any better," said Sophia Matthewson, of Cape Coral, Fla. "Warmest reaction I've ever had."

"I grew up with all these boys and they welcomed me with open arms," Bravo said. "They really accept me. They're like family."

Trinity Curtis, of Oakhurst, Calif., said that it's "actually kind of cool" to be the only girl on her high school team.

"At first they're like, 'What are you doing here?' But then you go out there and you just show them that you're just like them," Curtis said.

That's a theme that is prevalent among every girl here at Historic Dodgertown this week.

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com.