WALNUT, Calif. – Last weekend, the baseball world witnessed some of the greatest players of all time entering the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. It was one of the more impressive classes in a while, featuring former Cub Greg Maddux, former White Sox Frank Thomas and Tony LaRussa, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre.
Although it may not be in the class of Cooperstown, Channahon’s Mackenzie Mazzocchi was given a spot in the PONY Baseball Hall of Fame during the same weekend. Mazzocchi was a member of the Channahon 9U Mustang baseball team that played in the Mustang-9 World Series in Walnut. Channahon lost their two games at the World Series, 13-0, to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico and 6-0 to Corpus Christi, Texas, but the weekend wasn’t a lost cause by any means.
Mazzocchi came on to pitch for Channahon in the game against Mexico, and in the process became the first girl to pitch and record a strikeout in the Mustang-9 World Series. Representatives from PONY Baseball were on hand to witness the event, and after the game, they asked her to put her name on the jersey she wore so that they could give it a spot in the PONY Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Washington, Pennsylvania.
“I was very excited,” Mazzocchi said during a stop her family made in Colorado on the drive home. “They said it was because I was the only girl that pitched and recorded a strikeout in the World Series.”
While it may seem odd for some to see that a girl is playing baseball instead of softball, Mazzocchi gives perfectly sound reasons for it.
“The ball is smaller, so it makes it easier to get my hand around it and throw and pitch,” she said. “Plus, baseball bats have a bigger barrel and that makes it easier to hit.”
Mackenzie doesn’t seem to have any problem being the only girl on a team full of boys. And, she loves playing baseball. In fact, she said she would have rather been doing something else Sunday instead of going to Laguna Beach, even though her and her family were able to witness a sea lion sunning himself on a rock not far away.
“The boys are really nice to me,” she said. “We have fun playing baseball together.
“The beach was fun, but I would have rather been playing baseball.”
Mazzocchi’s father, Eddie, said it was a decision that has worked out well.
“The boys on the team have been excellent,” Eddie Mazzocchi said. “They are still boys, though, and when it comes to hanging out and stuff after the games, they want to be in a group with all the boys, but when they are on the bench together and on the field, they are all part of a team and there is no boy-girl stuff. Sometimes we hear that from the other team, like ‘Hey, what’s that girl doing up there batting?’ or ‘Don’t let this girl strike you out.’
“But, if she gets a hit or makes a play in the field or does strike someone out, those comments go away. When she proves she belongs, they treat her just like any other player.”
As Mackenzie gets older, the Mazzocchi parents know they are going to have a decision to make. In fact, that day is getting closer and closer.
“We are actually talking about it on the way home,” Eddie Mazzocchi said. “She has had a softball coach or two already come up to her and want her to play with them next year. Sooner or later, it’s going to have to happen. The gap is going to widen between her and the boys. The weird thing is, she doesn’t pitch at all in softball. She throws overhand way better than she does underhand.
“It was kind of sad after the game Saturday. The coaches have all been real supportive of here being with the team, but they mentioned after the game that one boy is moving away and Mackenzie is probably going to start playing softball, but that they will always be part of this team. That made us feel real good.
“Plus, it will be real cool for her to say someday in the future that she got put into the Hall of Fame on the same weekend as Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux.”