SAN ANTONIO — Lyndsey Calton wasn't exactly looking for a spot on a girls' team.
The 13-year-old standout in the San Antonio Dixie Youth League likes the pace of baseball and the competition she's found in the boys' league. Then she found out about an elite national all-girls baseball team for players like her — and she earned a coveted spot.
Calton will suit up next month with the Sparks, which will compete against boys travel teams in Cooperstown, N.Y., from Aug. 12-19.
"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity," said Calton, who attends Pasco Middle School. "I've only ever been a baseball player. I've never wanted to play softball. Ever since I started playing four years ago I've always wanted to play against the boys because it's more competition."
The all-girls Sparks team will be managed by Robin Wallace, a member of the 2004 USA Baseball Women's National Team that captured a gold medal at the Women's Baseball World Cup.
The opportunity to play for the Sparks came by chance after Calton's mother, Lisa, happened across an article about Justine Siegal, the first woman to serve on the coaching staff of a men's professional baseball team (the Brockton Rox of the Can-Am League). Siegal is the founder of "Baseball for All," an organization that provides meaningful baseball instruction and playing opportunities for people around the world.
She has organized numerous girls' and women's baseball tournaments and coached more than half a dozen international girls' baseball teams.
"I just happened to find out about the Baseball for All team on the Internet," Mrs. Calton said. "She (Lyndsey) wanted to do it, so she and her father flew up to Michigan to get on the team."
The Cooperstown tournament will provide a different experience for Lyndsey Calton, who has only played on an all-girls team during the Baseball for All selection tournament where she was picked for the Sparks.
"I'm looking forward to playing with some other girls that are on my level, but I think I'll be excited when I get back home to play with boys against boys," Calton said. "I'm not sure why but when I played at the tournament to get on the team it was different. The pitches weren't as fast and I just wasn't as comfortable as when I'm playing with boys."
Mrs. Calton said her daughter has a "natural swing" that allowed her to quickly pick up the game. Now she's a force at the plate.
"I've got boys that don't want to play short stop when she takes batting practice," said Calton's coach, John Smith. "She hits more line drives than anybody else on the team. When she gets on a roll, it's fun to watch."
Smith said Calton is the first girl he's coached, but he'd gladly take more like her. "She has what a lot of the boys don't: a desire to play baseball," he said.