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Dodger girl playing with the big boys


June 25, 2002|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Sports Editor

On sandlots and baseball diamonds across America, boys usually dominate the landscape of Little League with but a few girls stranded out in right field or riding the bench.

Not so for the Seaview Little League Westmorland Dodgers' Vanessa Frutos.

While her Dodgers were dispatched in consecutive games from the District 22 inter-city minor league tournament more than a week ago, the 10-year-old Frutos of Westmorland was a big part of her team's never-say-die ethos.

In the first game of the tournament, against the inter-city champions the Calexico Indians, Frutos and her teammates were held hitless in a 10-0 defeat.

But in the second match the Dodgers, especially Frutos, came on strong in a 13-6 defeat to the Imperial Padres.

Frutos, soon to be a sixth-grader at Westmorland Elementary School, banged a triple deep into the outfield with bases loaded. Scoring three teammates, the Dodgers left the second inning up 5-1 over Imperial.


"I hit the ball to the outfield and I started running fast," she said. "I was pretty proud because I (later) made it home. They were telling me, ‘Go, Vanessa.'"

She added her coach and parents congratulated her on the play.

In the fourth, she got a base hit, going 2-for-4.

On the defensive end, Frutos took the mound in the fourth as a reliever, striking out the first three Imperial batters she faced to end the inning.

Although she walked a couple batters to start the fifth and was yanked from the game, at shortstop she made her presence felt.

In the third inning, with two outs, shortstop Frutos dropped to her knees to scoop up a soft line drive, throwing the batter out at first.

In the fourth, she backhanded a grounder hit between short and third and threw out another runner at second.

Meanwhile, the season's not over for Frutos, who was named to the Seaview Little League 9-10 all-star team.

Said Seaview coach and all-star co-coach Gabriel Martinez: "She's always excelled in sports. She's played basketball for me, and soccer."

Martinez added girls like Frutos can serve as inspirations of other girls who feel intimidated by the all-male atmosphere of Little League.

"If we can get more girls out here to play, it'll make it more well-rounded. This way, when you see one (girl), others will say, ‘I can play, too,'" he said.

Martinez added of Frutos, "She can go out and excel and compete with the boys. She goes out there every day. She's not easily intimidated."


Taylor Haller, Imperial Sea Lions swim team, won the 25-yard butterfly, 25 backstroke, 25 freestyle and 100 individual medley at a tri-meet in Blythe on Saturday.

Stevie Wills, Imperial Valley Desert Aquatics, took third place in the girls 11-12 100-meter breaststroke at the Coronado Navy Swim Association's Father's Day "A" meet last weekend.

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