Kennedy Dietz is pitching teams to victory on both sides of the border.
The 14-year-old Sarnian and member of the Enniskillen Express girls’ fastball team recently pitched for the Michigan Bulldogs 14U team in the USSSA state championship tournament.
The Bulldogs made it all the way to the final only to lose the title game in extra innings.
Dietz, who also played second base, participated in three tournaments for the Bulldogs this summer. She joined the team a few months ago after noticing an online forum post. The Bulldogs, based in Macomb County just north of Detroit, were looking for a pitcher.
Todd Dietz and his daughter arranged an interview and a tryout in Port Huron. The Bulldogs liked what they saw and signed her.
The team plays primarily in tournaments against other teams from Michigan and neighbouring states.
The Dietzes say Kennedy is the only Ontario girl they know of playing in the Michigan circuit this year.
Kennedy, who has been playing for Lambton County ball teams from the age of five, said it required an adjustment.
“It was a bit weird. I had to get to know a whole new team,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to meet new girls who I can play with in the future.”
The two months in Michigan has improved her game, she added.
For the 14U age group the pitcher’s rubber is 43 feet from home plate. In the Southwestern Ontario Grand Valley League the rubber is five feet closer – which made pitching seem easier after her experience stateside, she said.
The caliber of pitching in Michigan has also dramatically helped her hitting with the Enniskillen squad.
Dietz travels to Michigan at least once a week for practices and weekend tournaments, and her local team practices once and plays twice a week.
“It works out to about six days a week,” said Todd Dietz.
Kennedy graduated from Rosedale Public School this summer and will start Grade 9 at Northern Collegiate in September.
She hopes to one day land a U.S. college scholarship, and playing in Michigan can help her get noticed by scouts.
Before that, however, she said she hopes to make Team Ontario’s U16 and U18 teams and try to win a national title.