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USC basketball star JuJu Watkins throws a strike at Dodger Stadium

 The Associated Press  |    Jun 22nd, 2024 10:38pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — USC basketball star JuJu Watkins had a different kind of ball in her hand at Dodger Stadium.

She threw out a ceremonial first pitch Saturday night before the Freeway Series matchup between the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers.

“This is probably the most nervous I’ve ever been,” she said beforehand. “Basketball comes easy, not baseball.”

Watkins had said she would be throwing left-handed because of a sprained right index finger. But she warmed up tossing right-handed and stuck with her dominant hand to deliver a strike to Dodgers pitcher Gavin Stone, who was behind the plate.

“I always see it on social media,” she said. “Never did I think I would be throwing a pitch.”

Watkins wore a personalized Dodgers jersey and after throwing from the top of the mound, she gave the traditional pre-game call of “It’s time for Dodger baseball.” She was accompanied by her parents and a cousin.

As a freshman, Watkins led Southern California to its best season in years, winning the Pac-12 championship before falling one victory short of a Final Four appearance. She’s riding the wave of increased interest in women’s sports, especially basketball.

“The women in the sport are incredible and just to see the rise of the game, it’s so inspiring,” she said. “It’s definitely a collective effort. I wouldn’t say I hold any sole responsibility. Just make sure I’m doing my part.”

Watkins took a break after the season ended and recently vacationed in Mexico.

“Now I’m ready to get back to it,” she said. “There’s so many things to get better at.”


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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The Associated Press