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Female phenom pitcher strikes opponents out, one boy at a time

By Sarah Aarthun, CNN
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13-year-old pitching phenom
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 13-year-old Chelsea Baker has been recognized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • She boasts two perfect games to her record
  • Her knuckleball is known to make her male opponents cry
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(CNN) -- A young baseball phenom has received one of the sport's highest honors -- recognition from the National Baseball Hall of Fame for pitching not one, but two perfect games.

And while a perfect game -- defined as one in which the pitcher allows no hits and no walks -- is a rare occurrence for the sport, what makes this 13-year-old pitcher's feat even more impressive is that she did it against the boys.

Yes, she.

Chelsea Baker, once a student of former major league pitcher Joe Niekro, last week donated the jersey she wore to pitch one of those special games to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The jersey will be part of an exhibit dedicated to the importance of women in the sport, according to the museum.

Chelsea, who until recently honed her pitching arm in Plant City, Florida's Little League program, told CNN Sunday that she feels "really honored and blessed" to be recognized on a national level at such an early age.

In addition to her Hall of Fame achievement, Chelsea was also recently featured on ESPN's "E:60" series.

Chelsea, who says she has been pitching since she was 7 years old, boasts a fastball in the mid-60s (miles per hour) and a baffling knuckleball that has been known to make her male opponents shed a tear.

"Yeah, when I strike them out with the knuckleball, sometimes they'll throw their helmets and start crying," she laughs. "It's just really funny to watch."

It's a pitch that was perfected with help from Niekro, who was her team's batting pitcher before his death in 2006.

"He would always throw it to us and I could never hit it, and so I'd always beg him to teach it to me and finally one day he just taught it to me," she says.

The knuckleball has helped propel Chelsea through four seasons without a loss with her Brandon Farms team -- and her batting average isn't bad either, hitting over .600 this season, though she notes "I like pitching more than batting."

Chelsea is now participating in Baseball for All -- an organization that advocates for women in the sport -- playing on a touring all-girls team made up of players from around the country.

And Chelsea says her career is only getting started.

"I want to play baseball for as long as I can," she says. "I want to play high school baseball and then I also want to play on the USA girls' travel baseball team."

Watch out, boys.

CNN's Don Lemon contributed to this report.

 
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