ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Some in the St. Louis area might not know much about the game of cricket now, but 16-year-old Ritu Singh is on a mission to grow the sport.

“When they see me playing, they’re like, ‘Are you playing lacrosse or croquet?’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s cricket,” said Singh.

Singh, raised in St. Charles, started playing cricket at just six years old. She’s honed her skills over the years with her dad as her practice partner.

“We used to go to this baseball field and there used to be this huge tree at right-center field. Every time I would be batting, I wanted to hit that tree. It’s like me being in a completely different zone. I’m focused on one thing and one thing only,” said Singh.

With very few girls leagues, Singh joined a recreational men’s league at age nine. She was so good that, by age 12, she was playing in more advanced competition.

“Seeing I was only 12 years old, and all the other men were a lot older, the fact that I can play amongst them and put a little bit of competition against them, I then started to realize I can make a profession out of the sport I love,” said Singh.

That confidence in her game began to show as she began to advance through USA cricket trials. And eventually to the under-19 U.S. national team.

This January, Singh will be one of 15 U.S. players to represent the country in the upcoming Under-19 Women’s ICC Cricket World Cup in South Africa. It’s Team USA’s first appearance in any Women’s Cricket World Cup.

“I’ve been playing it for so long, and I’ve put a lot of effort into the sport. So it really means a lot for me to make it here,” said Singh.

While cricket has steadily grown in popularity in the U.S., Ritu says there is much more room for growth locally. And hopes to be one of the faces of that growth.

“That’s just been my dream. Help USA win the World Cup,” said Singh. “It may not be this year. It may not be two years from now. But I know I want to be on the first USA win.”

The Under-19 Women’s World Cup begins on Jan. 14, 2023 in South Africa.