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A diamond is this girl's best friend
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/1/2007 12:33 AM

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Loud, screeching chants of "You go, girl!" were commonplace last spring at freshman boys baseball games at Warren High School in Gurnee.

That's right. "You go, girl" at a boys game.

Lindsay Horwitz's friends were there to cheer her on, but also seemed determined to make sure that everyone in attendance was aware of her noteworthy accomplishment.

Horwitz, of course, was the only girl on the team.

In fact, Horwitz, a pitcher and infielder, is also the only girl to ever make a boys baseball team at Warren.

Just recently, Horwitz also became the youngest player to be selected for the U.S. women's national baseball team. She is in North Carolina this weekend for an international tournament that also features teams from Japan and Canada.

Depending on how well Horwitz plays, she could put herself on the inside track for a spot on USA Baseball's team for the International Baseball Federation Women's World Cup, which is similar to an Olympic team for women's baseball.

Horwitz, who spent the summer playing for the Chicago Pioneers, an all-girls baseball team that competed in a suburban boys league, is 15 years old.

"I first got into baseball because my older brother Jeremy played it, and I wanted to do everything he did," Horwitz said. "I started with tee ball and then just stuck with it. I've played on park district baseball teams, things like that. Each year, there are fewer and fewer girls, and sometimes I'm the only one."

A lot of people ask Horwitz why she simply doesn't switch to softball.

"It's not my thing," she'll say. "I like baseball better. I like the smaller ball. I like the way you pitch in baseball more than softball. I like the strategy in baseball better. I know the game better. And I'm just better at it.

"I've wanted to prove to everybody that I could make the boys teams. And when I made the freshman team at Warren, I was just so excited."

It wasn't a fluke either. Horwitz made the 18-player freshman B team after surviving a tryout with about 75 boys.

Although Horwitz was a relief pitcher last spring and didn't see much action, she is determined to make the sophomore team next spring and is confident her role will increase.

"I'm a really good fastball pitcher," Horwitz said. "I have a good curve and I'm pretty accurate, too."

The boys found that out.

And they didn't always like it. Especially if Horwitz struck them out.

"It's not like they were throwing their bat or anything," Horwitz said. "But you could tell sometimes that they would be mad sitting over there in the dugout. Some of them just weren't that thrilled with me."

But that didn't faze Horwitz. Nor did the comments she overheard from parents who were annoyed that she had taken a spot on the roster from their sons.

A straight-A student, she's pretty mature and even-keeled. In fact, Horwitz didn't even become flustered at a tournament that she played in with the Pioneers in Detroit this summer when it became obvious that scouts for the USA Baseball women's national team were watching her every move.

"I guess I caught their eye," Horwitz said. "I was pitching and playing shortstop, and I made a good impression.

"But I was still surprised (about the invitation to play in this weekend's Women's International Friendship Tournament in Cary, N.C.). There will be a lot of good players there."

Horwitz will be the youngest player there, while the more experienced players could be as old as 40. Their common denominator is that they're all among the best female baseball players in the United States.

"I think (the tournament) is going to be really cool," Horwitz said. "I'm so honored to play with a team like this. I'm going to have to prove that I can play up to their level, but I think I can.

"I'll be nervous, but I'm more excited than nervous."

If Horwitz doesn't make next year's Cup team, she's got a few backup plans.

She's hoping to play four years of baseball at Warren, which would mean eventually making the varsity team. And after that, she'd love to play baseball in college.

"I know of at least one girl who did that," Horwitz said. "She played at a really small college, but she still played college baseball. I think that would be so cool. I would love to do that."

You go, girl.

On the tube: Get ready for some exciting women's basketball.

The WNBA conference finals will be decided over the long holiday weekend.

In the Eastern Conference, the defending champion Detroit Shock will face former Stevenson star Tamika Catchings and the Indiana Fever in Game 2 of their series Sunday (noon, ABC7) with Game 3, if necessary, on Monday (5 p.m., NBA TV).

In the Western Conference, the Phoenix Mercury and the San Antonio Silver Stars will tip off Game 2 today (6 p.m., NBA TV). If necessary, they'll meet up again Sunday (4:30 p.m., ESPN2).