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College baseball coach takes heat for female pitcher's scholarship

May 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A girl playing high school baseball is rare. Playing at the college level is even more unique. Birmingham High School pitcher Marti Sementelli is going to get that chance, but not without a little controversy.

Playing with the Boys of Summer is something Sementelli has done since she was 5 years old. Now she is taking it to the next level. She's accepted a partial scholarship to Montreat College, a small Christian school in North Carolina.

"I looked past gender from day one. I looked at her as a fit for the school, will she meet our priority system as far as what we've laid down within our program," said Montreat College baseball coach Mike Bender.

Ironically, Eyewitness News initially met Sementelli as a kid, and introduced her to some players of the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. That was more than a decade ago.

"I've never seen a girl throw a baseball like she throws, you know, at her age, not even close," said Bobby Cox, former Braves manager.

What Cox also said that day was that Sementelli might be better off playing softball because of the potential for a scholarship.

"You go to softball, you'll have more opportunities, scholarship-wise and school-wise. But I mean, the truth is, if you keep just pumping and keep trying, and you know, trying to find every way out, then it is possible," said Sementelli.

Sementelli's soon to be new coach in North Carolina has already fielded a little bit of criticism by alumni for having a girl join the Boys of Summer. But if there's anyone who can handle that criticism, it's Birmingham's relief pitcher.

"It's a lot on my shoulders but I'm willing to take it on, because if it means years from now I will get the word out from not just on the West Coast but going to the East Coast," said Sementelli.

Sementelli's high school coach has confidence in her.

"She's going to be able to go in there and handle it the best, you know, because of her personality," said Birmingham High baseball coach Matt Mowry.


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