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Baseball: Local cricket star Lisa Ramjit aces first pitch at Orioles game

Lisa Ramjit, incoming freshman at Francis Scott Key HS, and a member of the US national cricket team, throws the first pitch before the game against the Astros.

Lisa Ramjit stood in front of the mound at Camden Yards with a baseball in her left hand, listening to the ballpark’s public address announcer read her cricket accomplishments to the crowd.

By the time he announced Ramjit’s helping the U.S. national women’s cricket team take down Canada in recent international play — she’s the first Maryland junior chosen for Team USA — players from both the Orioles and Astros applauded from their dugout spots. Some fans stood and cheered.

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Ramjit waited, then put the ball in her right hand before winding up and delivering a solid strike to Orioles pitcher Tom Eshelman, who took a catcher’s position behind the plate.

Throwing out of the ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s game at Oriole Park had Ramjit feeling a little nervous, she said. But she’s quite used to being in such a spotlight.

“I just went out there and I had fun,” said Ramjit, 14, an incoming freshman at Francis Scott Key High School. “It was so much fun to see the crowd and just hear everybody."

Ramjit said her mom, Liloutie, told her about the month ago the Orioles wanted her to come to Baltimore for the first pitch honors.

“I was like, ‘That’s so amazing.’ They could have chose anyone to do the honor,” Ramjit said. “And I got chosen. I was really excited to do it.”

In May, Ramjit opened as Team USA’s bowler (cricket’s version of a baseball pitcher) against Canada and took the first international T20 wicket in the team’s history.

A wicket is a set of three stumps that has a small stick, called a bail, on top. The bowler’s goal is to take a wicket, which is being defended by a batsman, by knocking the bail off the stumps.

Ramjit won her start, leading the Americans to a three-game sweep of their northern neighbors in Lauderhill, Florida, and helping the team move one step closer to securing a berth in the 2020 International Cricket Council women’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

Ramjit played on coach Sham Chotoo’s under-11 cricket teams that won state championships in 2015 and 2016. Her play in tournaments in Florida, Minnesota, and Canada drew interest from the national team, which invited her to train with its players earlier this year.

Chotoo came to Camden Yards on Sunday to support Ramjit, and said he got emotional listing to her accolades as he stood near the Orioles dugout before her first pitch.

“I’m so very proud of her,” Chotoo said. “From all these past few years, just seeing how well she did against boys ... she’s always played very competitively. She has grown as a player and her skill level has improved significantly.”

Chotoo started a cricket program in Bowie in 2012, and Ramjit, who lived there at the time, started playing the sport at age 7. Chotoo said he saw her talent as a youngster and knew she had a chance to rise in the ranks with her potential.

Ramjit’s coach soaked in the experience Sunday.

“It was very cool that the audience was actually listening and clapping,” Chotoo said. “When she was going back in the tunnel they were waving to her.”

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Ramjit said she leaves in a few weeks for Scotland, where Team USA is set to play in another World Cup qualifying tournament at the end of August. High school starts after that, and Ramjit said she’s going to focus on cricket instead of any sports at FSK for the time being.

“She’s handling the success really, really well,” Chotoo said. "Some other players who don’t even get to this level, they get very cocky and talk down to their teammates. But that’s not Lisa. [Members] of the USA team have told me personally that they’re so glad how she holds everything together.

“In that aspect ... I’m so proud of her.”

Only 14, Lisa Ramjit, an eighth-grader at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, has blossomed into a rising cricket star who has earned a spot on the U.S. national team. Here, she is congratulated by her teammates after bowling the team to a win against Canada on May 17.
Only 14, Lisa Ramjit, an eighth-grader at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, has blossomed into a rising cricket star who has earned a spot on the U.S. national team. Here, she is congratulated by her teammates after bowling the team to a win against Canada on May 17. (USA Cricket/BSMG)
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