What’s it like to strike out a boy?
“It’s so good,” Brynn Williams said. “It really feels good.”
“Sometimes, I hear the other boys say ‘You just got struck out by a girl,’” Demi Chaney said.
Chaney, from Homewood, and Williams, from Flossmoor, played over the Labor Day holiday weekend with the 12u Humboldt Park Gators, the only all-girl baseball team in the Ho Chunk Labor Day Tournament in Lynwood. It was the team’s first event this year.
“We broke barriers. There is no other team in Illinois that is all girls competing against boys,” Demi’s dad and Gators head coach Fred Chaney said. “That, in and of itself, the courage of the girls to come out here and do that, that’s a win already.”
The Gators played three games in the tournament.
The 0-3 outcome wasn’t exactly what the Gators wanted. But it was the teams’ first time playing together after only one practice. Most of them had never played the sport at that level before. Mile markers were crossed.
The team made no errors in its last game Monday. No one struck out looking, either.
“I feel like if we keep going in practices and games together, we’ll get better,” Williams said.
The Gators drew a crowd Monday, Sept. 7. As teams finished games on nearby fields, players and parents would take in a few innings.
“A lot of programs came over. A lot of women, especially, came over and were just really watching. A lot of moms bringing out their daughters to see,” Fred Chaney said. “The boys and dads are actually telling us it’s super cool, too.”
Demi Chaney and Williams aren’t new to baseball. They also played for the Flossmoor Firebirds traveling baseball team together. They were the only girls on the team.
Both girls pitch. Demi also plays shortstop. Brynn plays second base and center field.
Neither ever considered softball. Pitching underhand just doesn’t suit either of them and both had older brothers who played baseball.
“I never really wanted to try softball. I liked baseball better,” Williams said. “It just seemed so fun.”
Demi has played with the Gators before, but for Williams it was her first time in an all-female dugout.
“I’m usually the only girl on the team,” Williams said. “I feel like it’s easier to talk to girls. It’s more fun.”
In her first game, Williams hit a double. As she stood at second base, the shortstop said, “Good hit.” It meant a lot.
“I think sometimes (boys) are kind of shocked. I think they’re scared sometimes,” Demi Chaney said. “They were just kind of staring at us.”
“They are shocked because you don’t show up to a baseball game usually and there’s a girl,” Williams said.
Demi Chaney said it took her a year to feel like she belonged on the field with the boys. The Gators helped her with that.
“It was hard for me. I just wasn’t really used to it, the fast pitching and stuff,” she said. “Usually I’m around all boys all the time so it was better to play with girls.”
The girls did settle in and enjoyed themselves.
One of the Gators was thrown out at third base in the third inning Monday. She ran back to the dugout grinning ear-to-ear.
“We try to teach them to compete but to have fun at the same time,” Fred Chaney said.
“You’re only going to do this one time in your lives. Do your best. Come what may, give it everything you’ve got.”
This story has been updated to change Fred Chaney's title to head coach. The first version listed him as assistant coach.