downtownexpress.com
Volume 20 Issue 4 | June 15 - 21, 2007

Youth

Downtown Express photos by Elisabeth Robert

Downtown Little Leaguers Leanne “The Rocket” Elefterakis, left, and Lindsay Holcomb warmed up Monday. Last week, the two girls opposed each other on the mound, a first for the league and a rare if not unprecedented occurrence in Little League anywhere. 

Two girls climb the hill to make Downtown baseball history

By Joe Orovic

Whoever used “You throw like a girl” as an insult has never seen a baseball come out of the hands of Leanne Elefterakis and Lindsay Holcomb. The 12-year-olds became the first two girls in Downtown Little League history to oppose each other on the mound when Holcomb’s Tigers beat Elefterakis’ Blue Jays 6-5 on June 6.

It’s no small feat considering Downtown Little League is among the largest leagues in the country. Yet both girls were impervious to their achievement, simply saying they felt “good” about the game.

There’s no way to tell for sure whether there is any precedent for the event in Little League’s history. Chris Downs, a spokesperson for Little League Baseball, said they only track the statistics of the Little League World Series.

It was Elefterakis’ first appearance as a starting pitcher, and she struggled through a third of an inning. “I was nervous,” she said.

Holcomb cruised through the game and earned her second win (she’s now 2-1 on the season). She had five strikeouts and six walks in five innings of work. She said boys don’t react differently when she strikes them out.

The girls’ composure after the game contrasts with their parents’ intensity. Holcomb’s father Peter started playing ball with his daughter when she was four and still plays catch with her regularly. He’s at every game, where his calm demeanor betrays the nerves he feels inside. “You live and die by every pitch,” he said.

Elefterakis’ father Greg provides the pre-game pep talk, which essentially amounts to a checklist of proper pitching mechanics – bending back, strong step forward, etc. Elefterakis also said her 15-year-old sister Ariana gives her tips on her performance regularly. “Just baseball stuff, mechanics and things like that,” she said.

Elefterakis looks up to Roger Clemens, and like him, relies mainly on a fastball to blow away opposing hitters (D.L.L. coaches prohibit breaking balls). In fact, she’s got Clemens’ style down to the compact wind-up before exploding towards the plate with her 53-mph fastball. It resembles him so much that umpires call her “The Rocket.” She thinks it’s “pretty cool” to share her hero’s nickname.

A Met fan, Holcomb looks up to Tom Glavine. Although she’s a righty, Holcomb, like her idol, relies on the location of her 62-mph fastball and change up, as well as movement to fool hitters. “She’s got that killer instinct,” said her coach Damien Gray. That killer instinct has earned her a spot on Downtown’s Majors Tournament Team – the first time a girl has made it on as a pitcher.

Holcomb’s talents also extend to the tennis courts – the sport she really prefers. She expects to play softball in high school, but admits her love of tennis surpasses baseball. “It’s a being-in-the-spotlight thing,” said her father.

Elefterakis is solely focused on baseball and isn’t thinking about softball yet, though she does expect to play it eventually. “She refuses to play softball,” said her father. “It’s only baseball for her right now.”

The Blue Jays, currently tied for first place, have two games left in the season. The Tigers hold the fifth seed with one game left before moving on to the playoffs. Both pitchers figure to play important roles in their teams’ run in the post-season.





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