TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The fact that Toms River won the New Jersey Little League baseball championship is not that unusual. What it is uncommon is that one of its top players is a girl.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, 12-year-old Kayla Roncin homered from the plate and tossed the final out from the mound in Toms River’s 7-6 victory over Ocean City/Upper Township in Monday night’s title game in Berkeley.
“Kayla got up, took a first-swing fastball and hit a monster two-run homer over the left-field fence,” her father, Ray Roncin, told Haskell.
“All the parents start chanting ‘hit like a girl.'”
With Toms River clinging to a one-run lead with the bases loaded and two outs in the final inning, Kayla was called in to pitch.
As CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport reported, Roncin was heckled by opposing fans after throwing a warmup pitch into the dirt. Then she sealed the deal.
Roncin forced an Ocean City batter to hit a shallow fly ball into center field. Her teammate, Jon Giordano, made a diving grab to win the game, sending Toms River to Bristol, Connecticut, for the Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament.
“I was just so happy and excited that we all work together to go this far and be the best team in New Jersey,” she said.
“She just loves the game of baseball and works hard at it,” Ray Roncin said.
Team manager Pete Avallone said Kayla is one of the boys.
“They bust her chops,” he said. “They make fun of her just like they do to the boys on the team. And she gives it right back to them.”
Team mate Joe Schifilliti called Roncin’s presence on the team an advantage.
“It’s unique. Not a lot of kids expect having a girl on the team, but for us it’s an advantage because she’s not just a girl she’s really good,” he said.
Avallone said it’s very rare to see a girl like Kayla on the baseball diamond.
“She’s amazing,” he said. “There aren’t any girls anywhere that are playing at her level.”
Kayla has been playing organized baseball with boys since she was 5-years-old.
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