Role models on the rise: WBSC Women's Baseball Development Commission celebrates International Women's Day through live webinar

Role models on the rise: WBSC Women's Baseball Development Commission celebrates International Women's Day through live webinar
Role models like three-time Women's Baseball World Cup MVP Ayami Sato are helping to #BreakTheBias, the webinar said.

The WBSC Women’s Baseball Commission celebrated International Women's Day on Tuesday through a live webinar with chair Hiroko Yamada highlighting the increase in women's baseball role models and the crucial role they have to play in encouraging more women to play.

Speaking on the webinar, the Baseball Federation of Japan board member said: “It’s encouraging to see there are more and more female athletes breaking into the ranks, which has previously been dominated by men. The great examples of Rosi del Castillo and Genevieve Beacom can inspire future generations to great things.

*Ayami Sato is another providing great leadership both on and off the field. She loves to share her knowledge with everybody," Yamada added. "As a Japanese, this sometimes scares me."

Del Castillo, the first woman to play professional baseball in Mexico, has played baseball since the age of three and pitched against men since she was 16 while Beacom became the first women to play professional baseball in Australia earlier this year when the 17-year-old pitcher played for the Melbourne Aces.

Meanwhile, Sato, who plays for the Seibu Lions in the Japan Women’s Baseball League, is arguably the best women’s pitcher in the world having won three consecutive MVP awards at the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup, a tournament her Japan national team has won six times along with two World Cup silver medals in the first two editions.

WBSC Women’s Baseball Commission’s webinar featured panellists: Kitty Au, who represented Hong Kong in six WBSC Women's Baseball World Cups; Narelle Gosstray, who represented Australia in the Women's Baseball World Cup as a coach, technical commissioner and is a Women's Baseball Development Commission member; Shari Reiniger, an American living in Canada who became the first woman to serve as a technical commissioner in international baseball and is also a Commission member; Robin Wallace, also a Commission member, who helped the United States win the inaugural Women's Baseball World Cup in 2004, served as a technical commissioner and became in 2014 the first women to serve as a Major League Baseball (MLB) full-time scout.

Gosstray told the webinar how Beacom has a very bright future and having made history earlier this year with her Melbourne Aces appearance, there’s a big likelihood she will make further breakthroughs looking ahead to the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in September. Beacom was recently included in Baseball Australia’s list of 44 invites to a U-18 National Team Camp due to take place in April.

Not only do some of the women’s star players make for an exciting future for women’s baseball but several initiatives and appointments have also changed the landscape for the better.

The Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) clubs the Hanshin Tigers, Seibu Lions and Tokyo Giants have all created a women's baseball team. "The Giants had female players join the training camp of the major league team. That was an amazing experience," Yamada said.
And Sport Canada and Baseball Canada have created a Masterclass project that aims at supporting women in sports and gender equality. A new high-performance women's academy is set to open before the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, Gosstray confirmed that Baseball Australia will hold a second women's baseball showcase with Geelong confirmed to host the event in May, “bringing together Australian Emeralds stars and some of the country’s top female prospects for an action-packed four-day event”.

"Hopefully, international players will be able to join," she said.

Women have also been making headlines in professional baseball in the US with Elizabeth Benn, the New York Mets new Director of Major League Operations, and Sara Goodrom, the new player development director at the Houston Astros, the latest examples.

On a final note, the webinar also mourned the loss of two Women's Baseball World Cup players - Australia's Jacinda Barclay, who passed away in 2020, and Canada's Amanda Asay, who died in 2022.