BY CHUCK SCHILKEN | LA Times
Ella Bruning is making history at the Little League World Series.
The 12-year-old catcher for the Wylie Little League team from Abilene, Texas, is the 20th girl to take part in the annual event in South Williamsport, Pa., and the only girl in this year’s tournament.
With two hits in her team’s 6-0 win over Washington on Friday, Bruning became the seventh girl to get a hit during a LLWS game and only the third girl to have multiple hits in a game. She also drove in a run, stole a base and scored a run during the game.
Bruning is also the first girl to play catcher at the LLWS since 2001.
Her team plays New Jersey in an elimination game Tuesday at noon PT. Here are five things to know about one of the tournament’s breakout stars.
Bruning told reporters after her big game last week: “It felt really good, because it wasn’t expected, because I’m not the best hitter. Those were my first two hits of the season … don’t tell anyone.”
When reminded she actually did have another hit this year, Bruning responded, “Pshhh that was a dinker.”
She can pitch
Bruning struck out two batters during an appearance on the mound against Louisiana in the Southwest Region final. According to USA Today, she was the first girl to pitch in the region’s championship game.
Mo’ne Davis made LLWS history in 2014 as the first girl to win a game as pitcher. Bruning was just 5 at the time but has said Davis made an impression.
Davis, now a college student and broadcast analyst for the LLWS, said of Bruning: “I cheer for her and hope she makes it a fun tournament and really hope she likes it, because it’s such a fun experience.”
During her team’s 6-5 loss to Michigan on Monday, Bruning took a foul tip off the knee and was checked by the medical staff. She remained in the game and blocked the next three pitches into the dirt with her chest.
Major League Baseball recently posted a video on Instagram of Bruning blocking a ball with her chest, ripping off her mask while chasing it down and throwing the hitter out at first, calling her “a beast!” MLB catchers Willson Conteras and Jorge Posada were among those who praised Bruning in the comment section.
“Keep it up Ella!!” Posada wrote. “Great job!!!”
She’s got baseball in her blood
Her father, Bryan, is an assistant on the team and brother Dillon plays outfield and second base. Older brother Collin also played in the organization and was Bruning’s inspiration to do so as well.
“I grew up watching my brother play All-Stars for Wylie,” Bruning told the Abilene Reporter News. “It started as a joke that I was going to play, but then we actually signed me up. I played, made the All-Star team and kept going.”
She doesn’t just play baseball
Bruning also plays for a regional softball team and took part in a tournament the weekend before the LLWS. But then she switched her focus to baseball.
“I dropped softball for the summer so I could do this, because this is once in a lifetime,” Bruning told USA Today.