FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Draven Morales becomes the first female baseball player to ever play organized baseball at the Fayetteville Woodpecker’s Segra Stadium.
Morales, alongside her teammates from E.E. Smith High School, played in the inaugural Jackie Robinson Showcase at Segra Stadium.
“Being able to represent a whole gender is awesome. It’s just awesome. I don’t have any words to describe it,” Morales said.
Draven Morales says she hit a home run after landing a spot on E.E. Smith’s baseball team.
She grew up playing baseball and doesn’t really care for softball, which is traditionally played by women.
“Since I couldn’t play baseball in Puerto Rico because I’m a female — they didn’t allow me on any team — I was like, you know what? I’m going to try out for the baseball team,” she said.
Morales moved to Fayetteville last September. She tried out for the Golden Bulls after getting the green light from the athletic director.
She did receive pushback from some people about being on the baseball team instead of the softball team. That was overcome by teammates welcoming her.
“They are the support I have there. That I really appreciate having. They are like family. They are my brothers,” Morales said.
“It was a little bit of a surprise. I did think they were going to force her to play softball,” said Jose Crespo, Morales’ father.
Her dad doubles as one of her coaches with the Golden Bulls. Crespo is also in the United States Army.
“It’s a great feeling to see how much she developed her passion for the game,” he said.
“It feels good being the voice of many little girls who want to play sports that people don’t want to let them play because it’s a male sport. Like it is just awesome,” Morales said.
The Jackie Robinson Showcase is part of The Nine Initiative. It is an effort by Minor League Baseball and the Fayetteville Woodpeckers to boost more minority involvement with baseball.
Three high school baseball teams from Cumberland County Schools participated in the games, including Seventy-First, Westover, and E.E. Smith. Organizers said Thursday was many of the players’ first time ever in the stadium and they were excited to play ball there.
“Next year we are going to get more schools involved in it,” said Howard Lattimore, Cumberland County Schools military liaison.
For more information about the Jackie Robinson Showcase click here.