WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. – After the 2014 Little League World Series, the whole world knew Mo’ne Davis.
The 13-year-old from Philadelphia made history as the first girl to pitch a winning game at the Baseball World Series. She was the first Little League baseball player ever on the cover of Sports Illustrated and named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential Teens of the year. She won an ESPY in 2015 for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year and was recognized by Michelle Obama and Billie Jean King.
“There has been a lot of cool stuff that’s happened here, but I don’t think there has been anything as cool as Mo’ne,” said Kyle Peterson on ESPN’s broadcast of the 2021 Series.
While Davis’ celebrity status has toned down a bit since then, her impact on the Little League World Series still looms large in Williamsport seven years later.
“Whenever I'm up here, people know me,” Davis said. “Yesterday I got stopped by a bunch of the ushers and was just taking pictures with them. They would tell me stories of how they remember when I was playing. Coming back up and bringing the joy back is always fun.”
This year, another girl is following in Davis footsteps: Ella Bruning, a catcher and pitcher from Abilene, Texas. Bruning, only the 20th girl to play in the Baseball World Series, made history on Friday, becoming the third girl ever to have multiple hits in a game, and Davis said it means a lot to her to see other girls succeeding in the sport.
“Watching for years leading up to before I played, I wouldn't see any girls,” Davis said. “I think I played against only two girls growing up on all-boys teams.
“Now in 2019, and even having Emma March during the year I was playing, constantly seeing more girls play, I feel like it's becoming more normal, and they're going out and they're holding their own. It's cool to see [Bruning] doing such great things. I'm cheering for her and hoping that she makes it a fun tournament and really hoping that she enjoys it, because it's such a fun experience.”
Davis is back at the Series this year as an in-game analyst for ESPN’s KidsCast, a broadcast that features kids (except for Davis, who is 20) in all of the on-camera roles. She was also an analyst on the first KidsCast in 2019, and she will work alongside three aspiring broadcasters selected from the Bruce Beck Sports Broadcasting Camp.
The group will broadcast Sunday night’s MLB Little League Classic between the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Angels on ESPN2, and they will be the sole team on air for the 7:30 p.m. ET game Aug. 24.
Davis studies journalism at Hampton University, where she also plays Division I softball. She grew up only playing baseball and hated softball when she tried it for the first time in sixth grade. However, when she gave it a second chance during her sophomore year of high school, Davis said she loved the energy and quick pace that threw her off when she was younger.
“I completely hated it, just because I had to do so much in such a short game. It just wasn't fun at all,” she said. “I would always bash the sport, which was my fault, but then I tried it out again in 10th grade, and I completely had so much fun. I wasn’t going to do a spring sport at all, but my friends were like, ‘Just come try.’”
Playing for a historically-Black university (HBCU), Davis said she hopes to inspire other Black girls to get involved in the predominantly-white sport.
“In high school, I think there were only like, three Black girls on the team. Now that I'm at an HBCU, and I see these girls who look like me, who have similar backgrounds to me, just enjoying the sport and loving the sport, it's so much fun,” she said. “It shows other little Black girls that, you know, you can do the same sport, and you could be in the same position that I'm in.”
Though she no longer plays baseball, Davis remains involved in the sport. She keeps in contact with several of her former Little League teammates, and she said she also coaches baseball. She said she hopes her success in baseball and the success of girls who have played after her will help continue to expand access to the sport for future female Little Leaguers.
“I was given a chance and given an opportunity, and I was able to capitalize on it,” Davis said. “Just giving those girls a chance and opportunity and teaching them the sport, making sure that they know it's not just a boy’s sport. I feel like giving opportunities and chances are the biggest things that someone can do, especially for girls.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LLWS star Mo’ne Davis cheering on Ella Bruning, Abilene, Texas team