JuJu Watkins LA Dodgers

University of Southern California basketball player Juju Watkins gestures after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels Saturday, June 22, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES — 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.”

READ: Sarina Bolden throws first pitch at San Francisco Giants game

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.

READ: Wembanyama throws out ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium

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.”

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