Battle Creek Central is getting a new baseball player, who was all-conference in Chicago.
And when done with the BCC baseball season, that player will start a college career as a Division I softball player.
If that sentence throws you off, it's nothing new for Sierra Baldwin and her family, who have been dealing with confused looks for years as she is in the unique situation of being a girl who is a standout in the boys' sport of baseball.
"We are used to it now, it's kind of normal. But every once in a while, in the past, there would be a comment that would make for an uncomfortable situation having to do with a girl in a boys sport," said Sierra's mom, Christina, who is a teacher at Battle Creek Central. "And that was hurtful. But I had to remind myself that we made the decision to be in this environment and we had to either take it and ignore those comments or looks, and be happy with what we are doing, or not do it.
"We have to know there are always going to be people that won't understand or act appropriately, but that's their decision. And it's our decision to continue to let her play and let her help her team."
Baldwin signed her national letter of intent to play softball at North Carolina A&T on Wednesday in a ceremony in the Battle Creek Central gym. However, Baldwin doesn't play high school softball and has plans to play for the Bearcats baseball team this spring.
Baldwin signed in front of friends and family at her new school as she just arrived at BCC this year, moving from Chicago when her mom took a job at the high school.
She is excited to take the next step in her athletic career. But she's also looking forward to playing baseball for BCC.
"I decided when I was 12 that I wanted to play D1 softball, watching it on TV and seeing the World Series," Baldwin said. "Ever since I was a kid, I would wake up every day thinking about this, lifting weights, working, talking with coaches, doing travel ball. And today, the recruiting process is finally over and I can now relax and focus on being the best I can be when I get to campus.
"And since I knew I wasn't playing baseball in college, and I knew I didn't want to do the high school softball thing, I decided I wanted to play one more year of baseball."
Baldwin played high school softball as a freshman in Chicago and then played on the varsity baseball team at Steinmetz Prep the last two years, earning all-conference honors as a catcher last spring. It is believed she is the first female to earn all-conference honors in baseball in the Chicago Public League.
Athletic director Charles Seils was excited to hear Baldwin wanted to further her baseball career with the Bearcats.
"I haven't seen or heard of anything like this personally, but I think it is completely impressive," Seils said. "I think it will be a positive story for our sports program. I think it puts Battle Creek Central on the map."
Baldwin first got interested in playing baseball because her older brother was on a team, "..and I had to hang out with him after school at practice.'
She started playing on youth baseball teams when the family lived in California, being the only girl at the California State Baseball Championships with an A-level travel team.
"It was great because I would have teammates who had little sisters who would say they wanted to grow up and be like me," Baldwin said. "And, to me, I really don't talk about being a girl in a boys sport anymore. It's more about, I'll show you what I can do and you can make up your own opinion."
Baseball remained a passion, but to get recruited for college softball, Baldwin started playing on travel softball teams in the summer the past few years - playing last year on a high-level team in North Carolina.
And after signing, Baldwin has found a perfect match with her new North Carolina A&T coach, Patti Raduenz, who played at Michigan State.
"My college coach played on the U.S. National Women's Baseball Team. She liked that I was a baseball player and she could relate to me because we have so many similarities," Baldwin said. "She wanted a player she could coach that had some of her own experiences, so I am super excited to be coached by her and to have someone who understands me and what I have been through."
Another big advantage of getting a scholarship to play at a school like North Carolina A&T is the academics. Baldwin's brother is a physics major at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and she plans to study aerospace engineering.
"I would love to build rockets one day," she said.
So between being a prospective Battle Creek Central baseball player, signing with a D1 school to play college softball and a possible future as a rocket scientist, Baldwin's mother was pretty proud during the signing ceremony at her new school.
"Academics are first in our house and that will always be the case. But we are excited about her playing baseball and signing to play softball," Christina Baldwin said. "I'd say she has hit a home run in both academics and athletics."
Bill Broderick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @billbroderick.
This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: BCC's Sierra Baldwin is a top baseball player and DI softball prospect