Herstory Makers: Mo'ne Davis Connects with 11-Year-Old Ella Bruning for Ceremonial First Pitch at LLWS

·3 min read
Mo'ne Davis
Mo'ne Davis

Tom E Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

Mo'ne Davis returned to the Little League World Series in a truly special way.

The 20-year-old athlete took the mound at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch with 11-year-old Ella Bruning behind home plate.

After her pitch, Davis met the young catcher on the field and autographed the ball for her to keep.

Bruning — who plays for the Wylie Little League team from Abilene, Texas — is the 20th girl to play in the LLWS. Bruning is the only girl in the competition this year.

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"Watching for years leading up to before I played, I wouldn't see any girls," Davis told USA Today. "I think I played against only two girls growing up on all-boys teams."

Regularly seeing more girls play the sport she loves has made Davis "feel like it's becoming more normal, and they're going out and they're holding their own."

"It's cool to see [Bruning] doing such great things," she said. "I'm cheering for her and hoping that she makes it a fun tournament and really hoping that she enjoys it, because it's such a fun experience."

Davis said she had no idea that her ceremonial first pitch would be caught by Bruning until she arrived at Williamsport. The broadcast journalism student also said she was thrilled to learn of the opportunity.

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Ella Bruning, Mo'ne Davis
Ella Bruning, Mo'ne Davis

Tom E Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

"I get here, and they tell me that I'm throwing to Ella, and I was like, that's so cool. I'm glad she gets to experience this. I was excited as well," Davis told WNEP.

In 2014, Davis was one of two girls to compete in the LLWS. At age 13, the Philadelphia native, whose incredible fastball reached 70 mph, became the first girl in tournament history to both earn a win and pitch a shutout.

Following her LLWS success, Davis was the first Little League baseball player to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated, named one of TIME's Most Influential Teens, and won an ESPY for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year.

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Seven years later, Davis has switched her focus from baseball to softball, which she plays at Hampton University. She is currently serving as an in-game analyst for ESPN's KidsCast — a role she first adopted in 2019 — while working with three aspiring broadcasters selected from the Bruce Beck Sports Broadcasting Camp.

"Whenever I'm up here, people know me," Davis told USA Today about returning to the LLWS field. "Yesterday I got stopped by a bunch of the ushers and was just taking pictures with them. They would tell me stories of how they remember when I was playing. Coming back up and bringing the joy back is always fun."

Davis, who still coaches baseball, said she hopes to be a role model for girls in the sport as she aims to help further expand access to the sport for female Little Leaguers.

"I was given a chance and given an opportunity, and I was able to capitalize on it," she said. "Just giving those girls a chance and opportunity and teaching them the sport, making sure that they know it's not just a boy's sport. I feel like giving opportunities and chances are the biggest things that someone can do, especially for girls."