Ateeyah, 14, a Westridge Yankees pitcher and Grade 9 pupil at Spine Road High School in Mitchell’s Plain, made the cut after a gruelling selection process. What made her selection even more special, she said, was the fact that she is the only girl to make the squad.
“I feel honoured to be selected to represent the squad because it will allow me to test myself against South Africa’s best baseballers in this age group.
“Being the only female in an all-boys team only inspires me to do better and prove myself as a baseballer,” she said.
A left hand pitcher and first baseman, Ateeyah says she prefers pitching because that’s where she is comfortable.
“I love being on the pitcher’s mound and trying to analyse every batter and see where I can exploit his weaknesses and get him to swing and miss my balls. I throw mostly fast paced balls and curveballs. Pitching is hard work. My performance on the mound determines how the rest of my team plays,” she said.
“Pitching also suits my personality. When under pressure I tend to be aggressive and, because of that, I think I have earned the respect of my teammates and opponents.”
The youngster, from Westridge, said she discovered baseball by accident, when she was only 7 years old.
“I was seven and my brother four. We walked past Stephen Reagon and saw coach Rae Ripepi teaching some kids baseball and we asked to join in.
“Since that day we have only missed two games and that was due to school activities,” she said.
Her performances since she started playing the sport haven’t gone unnoticed. Last year, for instance, she was named the most valuable under-15 player at the club.
The youngster described baseball as a fair sport where every player gets a chance to shine. She also noted that it is a very technical sport that requires good hand-eye coordination, and, “It teaches you alot of self-discipline,” she said.
“In baseball there is a saying that goes, ‘It’s not about winning, it’s about building friendships’, and that is why I love this game. No matter what club or area you are from, you are part of one big family.” Her father, Fadiel, 47, described Ateeyah as a dedicated player who leaves no stone unturned when it came to preparing herself.
“I have been mentoring and coaching Ateeyah with her pitching since day one and feel proud that her hard work is paying off,” he said.