Kayla Roncin has been playing baseball since she was 5-years-old. She’s 12, now, and this week, in the Little League championship tournament for the state of New Jersey, Roncin had the greatest hit of her young life.
Roncin’s two-run home run in the state title game lifted her Toms River team over Ocean City/Upper Township, sending Roncin and the boys to the Little League Mid-Atlantic Regional, where they’ll face a team from Wahington, D.C.
If the home run wasn’t enough, Roncin secured the final out for Toms River, getting Ocean City’s cleanup hitter to pop up with a fastball at the knees.
“I was really nervous,’’ Roncin told NJ.com. “I heard them cheering every bad pitch.’’
In the home run clip, Roncin doesn’t look like one of the boys: she looks bigger and stronger. There have been 16 girls to make the Little League World Series since 1984. Roncin’s current team has a long way to go, but advancing out of the state is a big start. Toms River won the title in 1998.
As you might expect, opposing fans and teams may not respect Roncin when they first see her.
“One time last season, when I went out to pitch, (the opposing fans) started laughing,’’ she told NJ.com. “I struck out the side. They were all quiet after that.’’
Roncin’s father, Ray, says opposing fans sometimes taunt his daughter.
“They were very abusive,’’ Ray Roncin told NJ.com. “There was a group of people heckling her. They were trying to get to her.’’
Kayla Roncin plays first base in addition to pitching, usually hitting 5th or 6th in her team’s lineup.