OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Cooperstown is home to the baseball Hall of Fame, with busts of legends such as Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. It’s also home to the Dreams Park national invitational youth baseball tournament.

A summer tradition in Cooperstown for 15 years, the Dreams Park tournament features weekly events for children ages 10-and-under and 12-and-under. Each week, 104 teams comprised mostly of boys from around the nation compete. But during the week of Aug. 13, one team will feature all girls, including a local athlete.

Allie Spinney, 12, of Old Orchard Beach, was named to the all-girls Sparks team that will compete. After learning through USA Baseball about the team, Spinney attended a tryout at the International Baseball Academy in Hinsdale, Mass.

After participating in various drills, she got word that she was selected to the Sparks, and she feels she can match up with the competition at the tournament.

“It is pretty exciting to play at this competitive level and to play with girls on the team,” Spinney said. “I’m not nervous at all. It is faster pitching, but I’m pretty sure I can hit it.”

Spinney, a pitcher and catcher, also views herself as lucky to have the chance, considering the high demand for a spot on the team.

“I’m lucky to be able to play with the team. There was a lot of competition out there and a lot of girls tried out.”

Spinney’s father, Ken, believes this is a good opportunity for Allie to play against boys, but he also wants his daughter to enjoy the experience.

“It is not every day that you see a group of girls playing competitively against boys. I want Allie to have fun,” he said.

Justine Siegal, the executive director of Baseball for All, saw Spinney’s athleticism at the tryouts.

“I wanted Allie on the team in the first five minutes I saw her play,” Siegal said. “She is a phenomenal athlete.”

Baseball for All promotes baseball for females, and Siegal travels the country to recruit players and promote the fact that girls can enjoy the sport as much as boys.

Siegal thinks it’s good for Spinney to play against boys.

“I’m excited because (Spinney) can play with other girls who are at the same elite caliber she is. It’s amazing to play with girls who love baseball as much as she does.”

While Ken’s primary interest is for his daughter to have fun, he likes that Siegal’s program sends a positive message to girls about the type of attitude to have on the baseball field.

“I love what Justine is doing. She’d giving girls the opportunity to play baseball and have fun,” Ken Spinney said. “It helps them believe in themselves and that they can play with the boys. If you have the right attitude and you put forth hard effort, you can play baseball.”

The Spinney family credited Tony Murray, the coach of Spinney’s Little League team. Murray, who coached Spinney for four years, thinks she deserves most of the credit because she knows how to motivate herself.

“She practices a lot and focuses on what she needs to do. She is very self-motivated,” Murray said. “I couldn’t be happier for her. She’s the hardest-working kid I’ve coached.”

Murray has never had a player in the Cooperstown tournament and when he was told Spinney chose to try out, he had no doubts. “I was all for it. No question, she was talented enough,” Murray said.

Staff Writer Austin Pollack can be contacted at 791-6384 or at:

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