Girls can’t play baseball.
Elizabeth Foxley hears that from time to time. And when Mount Rainier Lutheran played Evergreen Lutheran on April 27, the Hawks’ junior got an earful.
“On the opposing team, one of the moms on the bench had said, ‘She’s not here to hit, she’s not here to swing,’ ” Foxley said.
She responded to the heckling by knocking a single over the right fielder’s head — so much for that argument. The Class 1B state-bound Hawks (14-6) went on to win, 16-3.
“Usually it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s a girl playing, she’s going to be the weak link,’ ” said Mount Rainier Lutheran senior Mitchell Pelissier, who pitches and plays shortstop. “But it’s not like that. She can hold her own. It’s proven wrong pretty quickly.”
The Tacoma school doesn’t have a softball team. So Foxley tried out for baseball, instead.
She is batting .357 this season with eight runs scored and six RBIs. She has started 12 games at second base, carries a .933 fielding percentage, and was unanimously named a first-team all 1B SeaTac League infielder.
“I didn’t think the other coaches would actually vote for me,” Foxley said. “I’m a girl, and this is a guy’s sport, and some people aren’t as open to that as this group of people is.”
Not that closed-mindedness slows her down.
Foxley’s also caught for the Hawks this season, and pitched on two separate occasions — including tossing 102 pitches against Tacoma Baptist, recording four strikeouts.
“She’s just a pure athlete,” MRL coach Earl Davis said. “I’m not surprised she can do it all.”
Foxley played select softball since 12U, and has played at the 18U level since she was 14 — currently with the Washington Thunder.
Because of MRL’s size, it only competes in five girls sports. Softball isn’t one of them, but not for lack of trying on Foxley’s part.
After playing for the Spanaway Lake softball team her freshman year, Foxley petitioned to create a team at MRL for the 2014 season. She researched other programs, recruited players, sought out coaching volunteers, and wrote up plans to raise money.
“I took all the necessary steps, but they couldn’t fund it,” Foxley said.
As far as school sports, playing baseball was the only softball alternative.
“We lost a couple of seniors two years ago, and we were struggling at some places,” Pelissier said. “I knew she played (fastpitch), and I think she showed some interest. I said, ‘Yeah, you should come do it. We could use an infielder.’ ”
So, Foxley gave it a try. There were kinks, and differences between the two sports that took some getting used to. She struggled with the concept of leading off, and had to adjust her batting stance — as a lefty, she’s an accomplished bunter and slap hitter in softball.
But otherwise the transition seemed natural, and her teammates encouraged her.
“I just came out ready to play, and they just took me right under,” Foxley said. “I knew I could catch up with them.”
Foxley never doubted her ability to excel at a boys’ sport — she’s offbeat that way. She knows she can play, and isn’t afraid of being different. She wears her softball helmet — facemask and all — for every at-bat. It’s safe to say there aren’t many other players with crystal earrings, painted nails, and bright red hair.
The hair is a recent development. She dyed it with Kool-Aid one night after her mother, Dawn, who is an assistant coach for the varsity team, went to sleep.
“She is who she is,” Dawn Foxley said. “And she does not apologize for who she is, and that’s what I love about her.”
Elizabeth’s reasoning for the radical hair dye was simple enough — she thought it would blend nicely with her violet prom dress.
“It’s kind of vintage — so it’s fancy,” she said. “There are sleeves, and it’s long, and it’s just very modest. I thought the red hair would look good with it.”
Foxley enjoys opportunities to focus on femininity, considering she spends five days per week practicing with 15 male teammates. But that’s not to say she doesn’t grind on the field every practice.
“I do like the dirt,” she said.
As do the boys.
“We treat her just like one of the guys,” Pelissier said.
And Foxley prefers it that way, but acknowledges the obvious differences between her and her male teammates — one is that her pants tend to be cleaner from game-to-game.
“I don’t think they wash their uniforms,” she joked.
Maybe not, but the Hawks are certainly cleaning up on the diamond. MRL has won 12 of its past 15 games — including three wins against Naselle, Shoreline Christian and Oakville to sweep the 1B quad-district tournament last weekend.
“Our goal right now is we take no less than state,” Davis said.
The Hawks shut out Oakville, 3-0, on Saturday to advance to the 1B state tournament for the second consecutive year, and will play Pomeroy (16-6) in the first round at 10 a.m. Saturday at W.F. West High in Chehalis.
Foxley squeeze bunted in MRL’s third run against Oakville in that quad-district title game to seal the No. 1 seed. In the third inning, with runners on second and third, she laid a sacrifice bunt down the third base line that scored Theo Tel.
Guess girls can play baseball.