She was the darling of the 2014 Little League World Series, a 13-year-old whose dazzling 70-mph fastball cast her in the national spotlight, putting her on the cover of Sports Illustrated and drawing the attention of, among others, Kevin Durant and Mike Trout.
Now, Mo’ne Davis, the first girl to pitch her team to a LLWS win, is taking another big step. She plans to play softball at Hampton University, the historically black private school in Hampton, Va.
Hampton Coach Angela Nicholson said she was surprised when Davis contacted her about playing softball at the school. “I was like, ‘Is this the same Mo’ne Davis?’ ” Nicholson told the Daily Press. “To be honest, I assumed she was going to play basketball. But she sent me an email, and I invited her to camp [in September]. She came to camp, and she was phenomenal. That’s how it all started.”
At one point, Nicholson believed Davis, who is from Philadelphia, had chosen Bethune-Cookman, another historically black school.
“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, man, she’s going to tell me no,’ ” Nicholson said, recalling when Davis texted to ask her to call. “So I went to the hallway to call her and said, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ She said, ‘I’m sorry this has taken me a while, but I want to commit to Hampton University.’ And I said, ‘Wait, what?’ ”
Davis hit the national stage in the summer of 2014 when she struck out eight batters in six innings in a 4-0 victory for Philadelphia’s Taney Youth Baseball Association. She became a national story, starring in a car commercial directed by Spike Lee and throwing out the first pitch before a 2014 World Series game. She even wrote a memoir, “Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name: My Story from First Pitch to Game Changer,” in which she admitted that “my mom wasn’t too happy” she joined an all-boys team.
”I proved to her (and to me) that I could do anything I set my mind to,” Davis said in a HarperCollins statement at that time. “I’m just a girl that likes to play sports and I’m excited to share my story with everyone. I hope it encourages people to take a chance and play the sports they want to play and not just the ones people expect them to play.”
In 2014, it looked as if basketball might be the sport of the future for Davis, who also played hoops and soccer at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. After the LLWS, she told ESPN that her dream was to play for Geno Auriemma at the University of Connecticut and go on to the WNBA. She even took shots with Stephen Curry when the Golden State Warriors played in Philadelphia. She also effectively dealt with the kind of trolling that comes with modern celebrity.
Clearly, whatever path she chose was going to include sports, which brought her to Hampton last fall. She arrived as a star, a celebrity who had “the little kids at camp . . . all taking selfies with her,” Nicholson said. “But she worked her tail off like every kid and had fun. And truly, she looked good.”
Davis, who plans to study journalism and mass communications, is no longer a pitcher. She’s a middle infielder.
“As you could imagine, she has great hands and a great transfer,” Nicholson said. “She plays like a boy. Hitting-wise, she already has a nice lift on her ball and understands the concept of gap-to-gap. She has great mechanics and she’s fast. She’s very athletic.”
Read more from The Post: