Cameron Ely loves hair scrunchies. But unlike most 11-year-old girls, the hair accessory has a bigger purpose than style.
“I like them because they pull my hair out of my face and I can also tie my hair up in my hat so now I look like a boy,” she said.
The boy-like appearance gives Ely an advantage when it comes to baseball, her sport of choice. When it comes to Hart Pony Baseball draft day, she blends in with the other pre-teen boys on the field.
“The past couple seasons, when the coaches came to draft me, they thought I was a boy,” Ely said. “And then at practice, they’re like, I drafted a girl?”
The shock wears off, however, as she takes the field with the boys like any other player.
But on Sunday at the MLB Youth Complex in Compton, she took the field with girls as she participated in the second annual “Trailblazer Series.”
Ely, who is a sixth-grader at West Creek Academy, was one of nearly 100 girls age 13 and under who share a love of baseball to take part in the event, which featured competitive tournament play and one-on-one instruction from members of the USA Baseball Women’s National Team.
Although she competes on an all-girls baseball team with the Los Angeles Monarchs, Ely was excited for the opportunity to connect with a whole new group of girls who share her passion.
“The best part is that I got to hang out with other girls and play baseball,” Ely said. “I have a girls baseball team myself, but it’s even more enjoyable to play with more and more girls on the same team.”
Maybelle “Mae” Blair and Shirley “Hustle” Burkovich, two former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players who helped inspire the movie “A League of Their Own,” were also in attendance for the event.
The pair believes that girls shouldn’t be limited to softball if they have a desire to play a sport involving a bat and a ball.
“If they want to play softball, more power to them,” Blair said, “but if they want to play the game that they really love, let them play their baseball. We want to give them the opportunity to.”
“We don’t want to have to compete with boys, men. It’s better for the girls to have their own team. Playing against girls, they can show their skills better.”
Now that the Trailblazers Series has concluded, Ely resumes play with the Blue Jays, a Bronco-level team of Hart Pony Baseball.
She plans to continue playing for as long as possible, then pursue a career in the sport – whether it’s on the field or behind the scenes.
“My ultimate goal is to carry this through and give Maybelle and Shirley some sense of achievement for what they’ve done,” Ely said.