Mo’ne, the 2014 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year, three years ago became the first girl to pitch a shutout and win a Little League World Series game. The Philadelphia native is now 16. She still plays baseball—this summer, she pitched in the Junior RBI World Series in Cincinnati—and earlier this year she was the shortstop for her high school’s softball team. She excels at basketball, and she’s also good at soccer.
But baseball was the sport that made her famous and landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated Kids in the same year.
“The first time I walked out on a baseball field to pitch, different guys saw me come out and they were all just, like, saying that I wasn’t going to be good and telling jokes to their teammates, and the parents were laughing,” recalled Mo’ne. “But then when they saw me face the first batter, they were all shocked, and we didn’t really hear anything from that side of the field.”
Added Mo’ne, “Word got around the league, be aware for the Monarchs; they have this girl pitcher. Don’t get too cocky or anything.”
The fearless nature that has allowed her to excel on the mound has also made her a role model for young girls everywhere.
“After all of this, I’ve learned how to have more fun while playing sports, not just for myself but for everyone else,” she says. “For people to come up to me saying that I inspired them, it just made me want to become a better player and a better person.”
Photograph by Luisa Dörr for TIME