Sarah Hudek, playing for USA Baseball’s women’s team.
Sarah Hudek, an 18-year-old pitcher at Houston’s George Ranch High School, this week signed a scholarship agreement to play college baseball at Louisiana’s Bossier Parish Community College, a decision that will place her among a small group of women who have played baseball at the collegiate level. Hudek, the daughter of former major league pitcher John Hudek, will be the first woman to ever play at BPCC, the Shreveport Times reported.
“This is not a gimmick and I could care less about media attention,” BPCC head coach Aaron Vorachek told the Times. “I’m signing her to help us win ballgames.”
Hudek is a left-handed pitcher with an 82 mile-per-hour fastball, making her “as good, or better, than most boys around here,” Vorachek said. Hudek has played baseball against the boys since Little League and has also shined in women’s competitions: she earned USA Baseball’s Sportswoman of the Year award last year after helping the United States win the silver medal at the 2014 WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup. Hudek went 1-1 with a 0.53 ERA on the mound during the World Cup while hitting .444 at the plate.
Hudek won’t be the first woman to play baseball at the collegiate level, but it remains a rare occurrence. During the 2014 season, University of Maine-Presque Isle pitcher Ghazaleh Sailors was the only woman playing for an NCAA-level team, according to NCAA officials (as a junior college, BPCC is not part of the NCAA).
Hudek isn’t the only girl who has made headlines on the baseball field in the past year: 13-year-old Mo’Ne Davis captured the sports world’s attention when she pitched Philadelphia’s Taney Youth Baseball Association to the Little League World Series, then dominated the tournament on the mound and at the plate. Davis made the cover of Sports Illustrated after becoming the first girl to ever throw a shutout at the World Series.
Like Davis’s story, Hudek’s signing should draw attention to the lack of opportunities available to girls who want to play baseball. As Emma Span wrote in the New York Times last year, girls are almost always pushed to play softball instead of baseball, even though Title IX guarantees their right to play baseball on boys’ teams if no girls’ team exists (softball does not count as a baseball equivalent under the law). According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, there were just over 1,200 girls playing high school baseball in 2013, compared to nearly 475,000 boys.
Hudek tried softball once when she was 10 but went right back to baseball, she told the Houston Chronicle last year.
“Softball was never really a thought in my mind,” she said then. “I’ve never thought of anything different. It’s always been baseball.”