WITHOUT EVEN playing yesterday, Philadelphia's Taney Dragons nailed down a berth in Friday's semifinals of the Little League Mid-Atlantic Regional in Bristol, Conn.

When the Newark (Del.) National team that Taney beat on Sunday bounced back yesterday to beat Northwest Washington (D.C.), Taney (2-0) was assured of advancing to the semifinals by virtue of winning tiebreakers.

But first, there still is a game to be played tonight, against Colonie (N.Y.) Little League.

One big reason that Taney finds itself in this enviable position is star female pitcher and infielder Mo'ne Davis. Coach Allen Rice, naturally, would like to see more girls playing baseball.

"They should be playing hardball," Rice said in a phone interview yesterday. "There are a number of things that I believe are archaic about softball. There are some stereotypical things associated with softball, and I think more girls should play hardball. At some point, if they decide to separate teams for baseball between men and women, I would love it. I don't really understand why they couldn't or shouldn't."

Davis is one of only two female players in the regional. The other, Toms River, N.J., first baseman Kayla Roncin, is 3-for-3 through two games. She also crushed a homer in the state title game.

Small examples like these show that there's a place for girls in the ranks of hardball, especially when Davis throws 10 strikeouts in five innings and Roncin exhibits one of the best swings in Little League, male or female.

Title IX legislation protects a girl's legal right to play baseball wherever it is available in her community - regardless whether alternative sports (like softball) are available. And as far back as 2008, there were 100,000 girls competing in Little League baseball's organization.

But when Taney takes on Colonie, its ace pitcher won't take the mound. Rice thinks she'll play a little infield instead.

"I haven't decided who's going to pitch yet," Rice said. "I have everyone available except [Davis]. But she can play absolutely anywhere on the field. She'll probably play either, third or first, it's a tough call. She's one of the few players I'll throw anywhere in the field and I'm comfortable doing so. She'll be in the infield somewhere."

Friday's regional semifinals (11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) will be broadcast live on ESPN. The semifinal winners meet Sunday at 6 p.m. with a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport on the line.

But Rice wants his Dragons focused on Colonie tonight.

"We've watched them play a couple times," he said of Colonie. "They have some big sticks in their lineup, some dangerous hitters. The team is solid all the way around.

"But we are motivated at this point. We're honestly just focused on each game, playing one game at a time and trying to set ourselves up for a No. 1 seed to have the best shot in the playoffs."