Outside the lines: All-American girls star among the boys

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It&8217;s been more than 50 years since Kathryn &8220;Tubby&8221; Johnston cut her hair short at the age of 11 to join the King&8217;s Dairy baseball team in Corning, N.Y. and more than 30 since Maria Pepe officially broke the gender barrier in Little League Baseball at the age of 12. However, their spirit and love for the game continues today.

At Vincent Municipal Park you will find a handful of girls playing with the boys. While this may be due to the absence of a youth softball league, don&8217;t tell that to 11-year-old Ashley Taylor and young Allie Totten.

Both set themselves apart to earn the boys&8217; respect this spring.

Ashley made history on June 4, as she knocked a pitch over the fence at Vincent Municipal. It was the first non-inside the park home run by a Vincent Dixie Youth baseball girl since the league moved from the old National Guard armory.

Both teams cheered and celebrated at home plate, according to Ashley&8217;s coach and Vincent league president Jeremy Isbell.

&8220;I&8217;ve been expecting it all year. Every time she hit the ball, she hit the ball hard … She impressed everyone at the park when she hit the ball and every one of the boys,&8221; said Isbell. He expects all of the coaches to be gunning for her in next spring&8217;s draft.

Ashley celebrated her home run with a trip to Atlanta to watch her favorite player, Chipper Jones, play.

Possibly following in Ashley&8217;s footsteps is young Allie, who was the only girl to make All-Stars this year after Ashley opted to attend church camp. Allie hit well over .500 for the Vincent 5-6 year-old All-Stars in last week&8217;s district tournament in Calera.

&8220;I just like playing the game,&8221; said Allie, who plays outfield and second base.

While Allie&8217;s is hoping to take her baseball career one season at a time, her excitement is focused more on the simply being able to hit off the pitching machine.

Ashley hopes one day she&8217;ll take her game to the next level and play at Vincent High School.

Isbell hopes she will one day be part of the Jackets&8217; softball team, but Ashley hopes to continue to make a mark in Vincent baseball history.

&8220;I&8217;d rather play baseball, because I like it better,&8221; she said