Little League star named AP Athlete of Year

Updated: 2014-12-31 09:19

By Associated Press in Philadelphia(China Daily)

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Davis brings new meaning to the phrase 'throw like a girl'

No one in the sports world had heard of the 2014 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year until August.

That's when 13-year-old Mo'ne Davis became an instant celebrity as she took the pitching mound in baseball's Little League World Series and mowed down batter after batter, giving "throw like a girl" a whole new meaning.

She was the first girl to win a Little League World Series game, and her performance dazzled fans young and old. Her steely gaze and demeanor on the mound were intimidating, while off-the-field, she shone in interviews.

She told admirers that if they thought she was good at baseball, they should see her play basketball. Only in eighth grade, Davis already plays for her school's varsity basketball team.

Davis appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, has her jersey displayed in baseball's Hall of Fame and was named Sports Kid of the Year by Sports Illustrated Kids.

She met the Obamas at the White House, starred in a Spike Lee-directed car commercial (the NCAA said it wouldn't hurt her eligibility), marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade along with her Taney Dragons teammates and presented Pharrell Williams with Soul Train's "Song of the Year" award.

The talented three-sport star - she also plays soccer - and honor student from South Philadelphia handled all the attention with poise, modesty and maturity.

"A lot of adults around me help out, taught me to be respectful, to be calm during everything and not let anything get to you," Davis said after learning of her latest honor.

A vote by US editors and news directors selected Davis as Associated Press 2014 Female Athlete of the Year. The youngest winner in history, Davis beat out Mt. St. Joseph freshman Lauren Hill - who played her first college basketball game while battling terminal brain cancer - and three-time winner Serena Williams. The selection was announced on Monday.

Davis tossed a two-hitter to help Philadelphia beat Nashville 4-0 in the Little League World Series opener for both teams. Davis, the first girl to appear for a US team in Williamsport since 2004, had eight strikeouts and didn't walk a batter.

Her team was eventually eliminated after losing to Las Vegas and Chicago. Davis gave up three runs in the Las Vegas game, and could not take the mound against Chicago because of pitch limits.

After the tournament, Davis was everywhere.

She threw whiffle balls to Jimmy Fallon on NBC's Tonight Show, threw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the World Series and signed a book deal.

"It's been really fun, got to do a lot of things, meet a lot of cool people," Davis said.

"My favorite things were playing in Williamsport and going to the White House. The Obamas just seemed like a regular couple, no different from anyone else."

While others are still talking about her Little League performance, Davis, a point guard, is concentrating on basketball.

"It's making me a lot better, helping me make decisions," Davis said of playing varsity.

"In middle school, I can get away with small things. The girls now are a lot taller so I'm working on my jump shot and ball handling a lot."

Davis aspires to play for the University of Connecticut and reach the WNBA.

She plays midfielder on her soccer team and hopes to play three sports in high school, though she's not sure about baseball.

"I know the boys will be much stronger so that depends," she said. "Hopefully, I can continue playing as long as I can."

Davis isn't just a jock. She excels academically despite the demands on her time.

"It's all about time management, how you plan your projects and not waiting until the last minute," she said.

Davis knows she has become a role model.

Her message to everyone, especially girls: "Always follow your dreams. If there's something people tell you that you can't do it, go for it."

Female honor roll

2014 - Mo'ne Davis, baseball-x

2013 - Serena Williams, tennis

2012 - Gabby Douglas, gymnastics

2011 - Abby Wambach, soccer

2010 - Lindsey Vonn, skiing

2009 - Serena Williams, tennis

2008 - Candace Parker, basketball

2007 - Lorena Ochoa, golf

2006 - Lorena Ochoa, golf-x

2005 - Annika Sorenstam, golf

2004 - Annika Sorenstam, golf

2003 - Annika Sorenstam, golf

2002 - Serena Williams, tennis

2001 - Jennifer Capriati, tennis

2000 - Marion Jones, track

1999 - US Soccer Team

1998 - Pak Se-ri, golf

1997 - Martina Hingis, tennis

1996 - Amy Van Dyken, swimming

1995 - Rebecca Lobo, basketball

1994 - Bonnie Blair, speedskating

1993 - Sheryl Swoopes, basketball

1992 - Monica Seles, tennis

1991 - Monica Seles, tennis

1990 - Beth Daniel, golf

x-both male and female winner were from the same sport

 Little League star named AP Athlete of Year

Pennsylvania's Mo'ne Davis pitches against Tennessee during US divisional play at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Aug 15.  Gene J. Puskar / AP

(China Daily 12/31/2014 page23)