THOMSON - LeAnn Rees has a passion for the game of baseball.
In fact, the 11-year-old has such a strong desire to play the sport that she was the only girl to attend the 27th annual Robert Sapp Baseball Camp, held recently at the McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services' Sweetwater Park near Thomson.
"Everybody just looked at me like they thought I was crazy or something when I showed up for the camp," said LeAnn, her ponytail protruding from the back of her cap.
It didn't take long to break the ice with the large group of boys who attended from surrounding counties in East Central Georgia.
She proved herself worthy of their respect.
"I showed them I could hit the baseball," LeAnn said. "They started liking me then and slapping my hand with high-fives. It was fun."
LeAnn is one of only five girls in 27 years to attend a Robert Sapp Baseball Camp, recalled Sapp, the former head baseball coach at Middle Georgia College for two decades and whose baseball teams captured four national championships.
"She's a hard-working ball player," said Sapp, who also once served as head baseball coach at the University of Georgia. "She seems to really like playing baseball a lot. And that's what it takes to become good at this sport or in anything in life."
Sapp said LeAnn was treated just like the rest of the group.
"She came here to learn the fundamentals of the game, just like the other participants," Sapp said. "She wasn't treated any differently because she is a girl. And all the others learned a little more about the game - things they build on to become better at this game."
Some of the skills LeAnn sharpened included throwing, hitting and being motivated.
In just four days, LeAnn was able to demonstrate some of what she had learned.
LeAnn, who played for the Braves in the Majors of the Martinez-Evans Little League, drew a walk in her first at-bat before smashing a triple - her first ever.
She also fielded several plays while anchoring second base, her favorite position.
The youngster said she doesn't think she'll play for the Riverside Middle School softball team next season but would like to convert to fast-pitch softball someday.
LeAnn said she'd like to play softball for the Greenbrier High School Lady Wolfpack.
"I think that would be a lot of fun, because the game is played a lot like baseball," she said.
LeAnn added that she loves playing baseball "because I like making defensive plays and hitting the baseball."
She became passionate about the sport while watching her 14-year-old brother, Richard, play baseball in the Martinez-Evans baseball program.
"I got the love of baseball from my brother," LeAnn said.
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