From the age of 5, Eagle River's Lauren Frost has stayed true to her love of baseball, and her passion for the game helped her land a softball scholarship offer from Stanford, even though she still has two years of high school left.
Until she's in college, though, she's sticking with hardball.
Frost, 16, started chasing her older brother Kyle around baseball fields when he was 6 and she was 4. A few years later she started filling in for Kyle's absent teammates in Little League games, and things snowballed from there.
She eventually started making Little League All-Star teams and whenever opportunities came along to switch to softball, Frost was too comfortable on the baseball diamond to leave.
"I love the mental side of the game," Frost said. "There is so much behind the scenes that no one knows about and that's what makes the game fun. It's not over until the last pitch and that's the best."
Although Frost has never played for a softball team, college softball teams started taking interest in her when she was selected for a U.S. Women's National Baseball Team tryout last September.
A number of schools showed interest, said Gregg Frost, Lauren's father and coach. She narrowed her choices down to four schools in January, paid her own way to visit them, and decided Stanford felt like the best fit. She has orally accepted the school's scholarship offer.
"The coaches are amazing and it has a real baseball feel, which really appealed to me," Frost said.
Before making the switch to softball, Frost's primary goal is to play as much baseball as possible.
The only girl playing American Legion baseball in Alaska this season, Frost will make a trip to Japan in August for some exhibition games with the U.S. Girls National Team and a trip to Brazil in October for a tryout with the U.S. Women's National Team to see who will represent the United States in the 2015 Pan Am games.
Frost carries a 4.0 GPA at Eagle River High, where she will be a junior this fall. Any chance she gets, she will sit in front of the TV and take in College World Series games, Little League World Series games and Major League baseball games. Her favorite team is the Texas Rangers and her favorite player is Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.
"You always watch the little things, pick up on footwork, this and that," Frost said. "You can never get too much.
When Frost isn't watching baseball on TV, she's playing or practicing. Sometimes the bug hits her at midnight and she'll drag her dad outside in the lingering midnight sun. In the winter months, she practices in gyms and hits in cages.
"My favorite quote is: 'You're never as bad as you are when you're doing poorly and you're never as good as you think you are when you're doing well,' " she said, though she can't remember who said it.
The 5-foot-8 Frost wears No. 3 and plays shortstop, second base and pitches. Her batting average is hovering around the .330 mark, she said, and on Saturday she proved she can handle pitchers from Outside. She ripped a fourth-inning single up the middle against the East Texas Canes of Texarkana at the BP Exploration Invitational tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.
Frost's competitive fire is constantly burning and she craves the ball in a game's biggest moments. That's why she prefers playing in the middle infield or pitching.
"I always want to be on the mound, but I'll take anywhere up the middle," she said. "When you're at short, you are in control of that infield. You have to know what's going on and you have to be everywhere."
Her teammates love her and treat her like one of the guys, she said. Her brother Kyle is a senior for Eagle River and calls Lauren one of his best friends and teammates.
"She's probably the smartest ballplayer I know," said Eagle River teammate Ricky Ayala. "She hits better than most of the team. If she's got a play, she knows where to go with the ball."
Frost's baseball journey has been filled with interesting moments, like the time in seventh grade she went to her dad and told him she wanted to pitch the second game of a doubleheader against a formidable opponent. He reluctantly acquiesced and she went out and won the game to the admiration of the opposing coaches.
"The thing that surprised me the most is that she wound up going to one of the top schools in the country to play softball," Gregg Frost said. "I lot of people told me I was handicapping her, because I was keeping her from getting a softball scholarship."
If a young girl were to ask for advice about whether to play baseball or softball, Frost said she would tell the girl to do what feels right.
"I'd tell her it's her choice. I mean, I followed what I wanted to do and it worked," Frost said. "I'd never tell someone to go a certain way, because that's their personal choice and desire."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS