Playing on boys baseball teams as a young girl, Marti Sementelli
never thought she would continue down the same path when she reached Birmingham (Lake Balboa, Calif.)
But her 2-1 pitching record in 22 innings – against strong competition – this spring is ample proof that she did make it in a big way. The 5-foot-2 ½ senior right-hander has appeared in 12 games, allowed nine earned runs, struck out 14 and walked just six.
She was the winner during a historic 6-1 victory over San Marcos (Santa Barbara)
and its standout female pitcher, Ghazaleh Sailors
She recently hurdled another formidable barrier by receiving a combination academic-baseball scholarship to Montreat College, a NAIA school in North Carolina. She carries a 3.7 GPA and wants to major in communication.
She throws a two-seam fastball, changeup, slider, cut fastball and palm ball. She calls her slider and palm ball her best "out" pitches.
"It's really good to know where I'm going," Sementelli said. "A lot of stress is off. I kind of expected to play on a team, but was not expecting a scholarship. It feels good that a coach would be willing to have me on his team. I've heard negative things that I was not going to do anything after college."
Sementelli revealed that after pitching for the USA women's baseball team, based in Cary, N.C., she fell in love with the state and decided she wanted to attend one of its colleges. She contacted five colleges and said that three were interested.
Her credentials also include twice pitching for bronze medal World Cup teams – in Japan at age 15 and Venezuela last summer.
At Montreat, Michael Bender is an equal-opportunity coach, having had players from such places as Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic.
"This is not about media (publicity)," Bender said. "I don't want to put myself on the map that way."
He pointed out that he had Sementelli throw around 40 pitches during an indoor session when she visited the campus in December.
"Obviously, she's a rarity in this sport," Bender said. "Like all of our freshmen, she will start off on our freshman-sophomore development team.
"She has a good curve ball and changeup. Her control and command of those pitches are just as polished as others I have watched. She doesn't have a lot of velocity. She's a pretty good pitcher – boy or girl doesn't matter."
But will she be well accepted by her teammates?
Bender sees no problem after her visit. He said that four or five starters and two assistant coaches provided an evening meal for her and afterwards they all played video games.
Nobody is happier about Sementelli's scholarship than Justine Siegal, founder of Baseball For All.
"It's a really big deal for all girls who dream of playing college baseball," Siegal said. "Marti has proven that girls can go after baseball scholarships. I think she will do very well. Her specialty is mixing them up. As long as you keep batters off balance, you can be successful."
Siegal, who spoke to MaxPreps today as she prepared to pitch batting practice for the Oakland Athletics, could recall only two other females who played in college on some type of baseball scholarship. They were Ila Borders (Southern California College from 1994-96 and Whittier College in 1997) and Molly McKesson (Christian Brothers University from 2004-08).
Gary Sementelli is a proud father.
"She was on Jimmy Kimmel when she was 10 years old," Gary said. "It's been a great run."
Meanwhile, Birmingham has a rare open date Saturday and Marti will take the opportunity to prepare for the prom.