By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
EVERETT — In almost every way, Megan Dedrick is a typical teenager. Right down to her big smile and bobbing ponytail.
But on a baseball diamond, whether at the plate or in the field, she is anything but ordinary.
Dedrick, a soon-to-be junior at Everett High School, is good enough to have been the starting second baseman for the Seagulls baseball team the past two seasons. And later this week she will find out if she is good enough to be named to the 20-member United States women’s national team that will soon head to Japan for the eight-team Women’s Baseball World Cup.
Beginning today, Dedrick will participate in a three-day camp at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, with 39 other hopefuls, including some with previous national-team experience. Though she has no idea of her chances, Dedrick said she is excited for the opportunity to try out. And the possibility of representing her country in international competition is almost too thrilling for words.
She attended a preliminary tryout camp in Houston two months ago, “and at the end we all did a cheer and said ‘USA,’ and it was just so cool,” she said. If she makes the team — and on Thursday she will find out, yes or no — “it would really mean a lot.”
Dedrick is the daughter of Jim Dedrick, who spent several years in pro baseball including part of the 1995 season with the Baltimore Orioles. He became a baseball scout after his playing career ended and works today for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Because her dad was a ballplayer, Megan Dedrick was naturally drawn to the game as a young girl. She began playing tee ball at 4 and has played baseball ever since, always against boys. Her only experience playing softball was two years at Everett’s North Middle School, where softball is a fall sport.
“I just enjoy baseball more than softball,” said Dedrick, who also plays on the girls soccer and basketball teams at Everett. “It’s more of a challenge.”
As a two-year starter for the Seagulls, Dedrick has held her own playing against boys. She has a smooth swing with enough power to occasionally find an outfield gap, and she is a smooth fielder with a decent arm. She plays mostly second base at Everett, but also pitched a few innings this past season.
“She does a lot of things well,” her father said. “She’s got one of the better swings I’ve ever seen. That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s going to bash the ball like some of the boys. But I love her swing, I love her balance (at the plate), and I love her hands defensively.”
Megan Dedrick’s initial tryout for the national team was the result of her dad’s baseball connections. The daughter of a Pirates assistant general manager works for USA Baseball, and it led to Megan Dedrick being invited to the preliminary camp in Houston back in June.
“There were a lot of good players there taking ground balls,” said Jim Dedrick, who attended as a spectator. “But honestly, throughout the whole day she was one of the better players. I wouldn’t say she was the best player at any one stretch, but I thought she was the most consistent. And I thought she showed her versatility as good as anybody.”
That said, the competition at this week’s tryout camp should be stiff, with women coming from all across the country and from a variety of backgrounds. Several are current or past college softball players, including two other women from Washington. Amalia Hopson of Sequim played at Texas Tech, and Michelle Snyder of Wenatchee played at Florida State.
There are also girls such as Dedrick who play on high school baseball teams. Like Sarah Hudek, the daughter of ex-major league pitcher John Hudek, who pitches on her Houston-area high school team.
The funny thing is, this is Dedrick’s first opportunity to play baseball with other women.
“It’s really fun,” she said. “In baseball, guys aren’t always going to tell you, ‘Oh, great play.’ But even when you mess up the other girls go, ‘Oh, you’ve got it.’” At the Houston tryout camp, she added, “everyone was cheering everyone else on.”
If Dedrick makes the national team, she will train with the rest of the U.S. squad for another week, then head to Miyazaki, Japan, for the World Cup tournament the first week of September. Other countries participating will be Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Japan and Venezuela. Games will be played in two of Japan’s major-league stadiums.
“I’m totally proud of her,” Jim Dedrick said of his daughter. “To be able to play for your country, that’s an elite group. Because as high as I got in baseball, I never got the chance to play for my country. And that would’ve been a dream of mine.”