Female Ace: I Don't Play Softball

Burbank High School pitceher Marti Sementelli has 35 strikeouts in her first six games this year. She says she never considered softball: "I would never be a [underhand] pitcher it's so awkward to me. It's not the right motion to me."
For some sports fans, the idea that girls can compete against boys might be hard to take. Maybe when they're little, but certainly not in high school or beyond. But one California girl is changing some minds, as CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

When the Burbank High School baseball team hits the locker room the starting pitcher changes in the snack bar.

"There are some teams when they realize it's a girl pitching, maybe step up their swagger a little bit and they're like, 'What is this, a joke?'" said Kiel Holmes, Burbank's JV baseball coach.

By the third strike out in a row, no one's laughing at five-foot-two-inch Marti Sementelli.

"On the mound, it doesn't matter you're height, you just have to hit your spot," Sementelli says. She says she feels like she's 10 feet tall out there.

Her dad, Gary, has guided every missile since his daughter was big enough to hold a bat and ball. In little league she had more than 500 strikeouts. And this season? She already has 35 strikeouts in the first six games.

Sementelli says she has about eight different pitches: "My fast ball, slider, two different cutters, two different kinds of palm balls and a change up." Most major league players have three pitches, according to The Pitching Academy.

It was 35 years ago that a lawsuit forced little league to let girls play baseball. In response, the organization also created a separate "league of their own" for softball.

Today 100,000 girls are playing little league baseball. But far more, 360,000, pay softball. And after age 12 the message is clear: Boys play baseball. Girls play softball. Marti wasn't listening.

Did she ever think of going into softball?

"Never. Everyone always asks me that," she says. "I would never be a [underhand] pitcher it's so awkward to me. It's not the right motion to me."

Click here to listen to a radio interview with Jennifer Ring, author of "Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball."
As coach Holmes put it, "Calling softball the same as baseball is like calling tennis the same as ping pong."

After watching her daughter fight to play, Jennifer Ring wrote a book about why girls are kept out of the national pastime.

"It's not the boys who are the problem. It's the adults. Parents and coaches just can't handle it," said Ring, whose book "Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball" was published last month.

In Japan, where females of all ages play "America's pastime," Sementelli won most valuable pitcher in the women's world cup. Back home, she's hoping being best in the world is good enough to stay in the game in high school, college and beyond.