In early March, Marti Sementelli and Ghazaleh Sailors made national headlines by becoming the first two female pitchers to face each other in a high school baseball game. Now, a month later, they can rest assured that they aren't the only successful female pitchers playing high school baseball in America.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sandy Almon has emerged as a major force for the Mount Pisgah (Ga.) High baseball team. The senior relief pitcher racked a 2-0 record in three relief appearances and a minuscule 1.17 ERA entering Friday action, spreading only a single run across her six innings of work.
Perhaps most impressively, Almon brings serious heat. The Journal-Constitution's Michael Carvell reported that Almon has reached as high as 85 mph, with her fastball sitting in the lower 80s with relative ease.
"She throws with nice velocity, probably consistently in the lower 80s on her fastball," Mt. Pisgah coach John O'Connor told the Journal-Constitution. "She is smooth with her mechanics and looks like any other high school pitcher out there on the mound, except that she's a girl."
The adjustment to high school baseball has been a natural one for Almon, who claims to have played organized baseball since the age of 3. The youngest of the Almon family's seven children, Sandy Almon transferred to Mt. Pisgah for her final year of high school in large part for the ability to play baseball, after being rejected from the varsity team at North Cobb (Ga.) High in her sophomore and junior seasons.
"I love baseball; it's my favorite sport and always has been," Almon told the Journal-Constitution. "I don't know how to explain it other to say that baseball just comes natural to me. Other sports, like basketball, are work. Baseball is not that way."
It appears that North Cobb is missing out on quite a passionate talent because of that decision, with Almon rapidly becoming one of Mt. Pisgah's most reliable pitchers and dangerous hitters; when she's not pitching, Almon is a part-time starter at third base.
"I think she's legitimate," Joey Hamilton, a former major league pitcher and one of Almon's personal coaches, told the Journal-Constitution. "She has a lot of work ahead of her that needs to be done. But I've seen and coached with a lot of boys pitchers the same age, and she has got just as much or more talent than half of them."
One of the umpires who worked a Florida summer league game in which Almon pitched took that praise a bit further.
"I've officiated for 27 years," the home plate umpire told Almon. "I've never seen a girl play at this level, and I've never seen a girl pitch with that authority. You did a great job and I look forward to reading about you one day."
He's reading about her now, and with Almon's current trajectory, he might just get a chance to read about her again in the future, too.
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