In what the Atlantic League is promoting as "the best story in sports," the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes made history Wednesday by drafting catcher Alexis "Scrappy" Hopkins with the eighth overall pick in the league's annual draft. CNN notes that the Atlantic is a partner league of Major League Baseball in the nation's Southeast, one that operates in cities without a major or minor league team. Hopkins "is believed to be the first female position player ever drafted by an American pro baseball team for an on-field role," per the Lexington Herald-Leader.
"I'm really excited for this," Hopkins said in a video tweeted by the Atlantic League. She notes that a few years ago in one of her college classes, the students were instructed to write down one of their dreams. "I was going to put down 'professional baseball player,' but I actually didn't, because I was like, 'That's never going to happen.' But I guess here we are today, making the dream come alive." Hopkins was a softball and volleyball player during high school in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., before going on to play NCAA Division II softball in college for Florida Tech, per the Herald-Leader. MLB.com reports that Hopkins is expected to hold the job of bullpen catcher for the Genomes.
Mark Minicozzi, the manager of Hopkins' new Lexington team, says he was wowed by her ability to block, frame, and catch pitches, some of which were hurtling toward her at almost 100mph, during a predraft showcase. "Alexis was the right pick at the right time," says Andy Shea, CEO of Stands LLC, which oversees the team. WLEX notes the team also has the first female coach in the league's history, Lindsay Gardner. As for how Hopkins got her "Scrappy" nickname: In a 2015 interview with the Northwest Florida Daily News, the athlete explained a "soccer dad" bestowed the label on her when she was just 5, and that it was all about "how I play" on the field. (Read more women athletes stories.)