Eleven-year-old Katelynn Maldonado’s eyes were as big as baseballs when the centerfield gate swung open and she and her fellow teammates were invited onto the field to work on their baseball skills at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Thirty-six girls, ages 8-18, from the Ball Girls Baseball Club, an all-girls league, took part in the event that included skills in hitting, catching, pitching and catching, guided by Dodger coaches and staff. Before the girls started their drills they were greeted by Naomi Rodriguez, Dodger Vice President of Community Relations, who said, “You are going to be playing on this field where world champions play. I want you to play hard, to dream, and to be inspired because you are the next generation of leaders. I want you to know how much I love you and how much the Dodgers love you.”
After pitching drills in the Dodger bullpen with Dodger pitching coach Ari Zagaris, Dalia Higuera, 10, had a new appreciation for pitching, saying, “There is a four-seam and two-seam throw, and when you pitch you have to keep your front foot on the ground.” Higuera was also impressed by the field. “It looks like turf, but it’s actually real grass, and when you’re in the stands the field looks pretty tiny, but when you walk out here it’s really big!”
After the players had circulated through all the drills, screams rose from the field as Dodgers Justin Turner and Will Smith appeared from the dugout to oversee a home-run derby. Each visiting player took turns trying to hit the ball over the wall in the outfield, against the pitching skills of Smith and Turner.
Katelynn Maldonado stepped up to the plate for her four swings against Justin Turner. After she hit three in a row over the wall, Turner told her he would give her an autographed bat if she could hit the fourth one over. Later, as the girls packed up to leave, there were tears in Maldonado’s baseball-sized eyes as she left the field with an autographed bat from Justin Turner.