International Women's Day - Female trailblazers in men's baseball

International Women's Day - Female trailblazers in men's baseball
Pitcher Stacy Piagno (pictured), who represented the US at the WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup 2018, was part of the first all-female battery in a men's baseball league.

Following the news last week that Alli Schroder, who helped Canada win a bronze medal at the WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup 2018 as a teenager, will now have a chance to compete in baseball at the collegiate level as the first girl to appear in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC), we look back at the many trailblazers in women's baseball.

Luisa Gauci, a 20-year old from Brisbane, Australia, also accepted a scholarship for 2021-22 to play college baseball in North America. She committed to the Green River College in Auburn, Washington, USA. Gauci has played baseball since she was 12 and made her first appearance on the international stage as a teenager in the WBSC sanctioned Women's Baseball Phoenix Cup 2017 in Hong Kong.

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In March 2020, Marika Lyszczyk from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, became the first girl to play catcher in collegiate baseball when she replaced starter Anthony Mele of the Riviere College (New Hampshire) against Finlandia University (Hancock, Michigan).

While Ila Broders, born in 1975, was the first woman to receive a baseball scholarship to play men's college baseball. She played for Southern California College from 1994 to 1996 and Whittier College in 1997. A left-handed pitcher, Borders went on to play for the St Paul Saints of the independent Northern League. She made her debut on 31 May 1997. She was traded to the Duluth Superior Dukes and returned for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. In 2000 Borders moved to the Zion Pioneerzz of the Western Baseball League. Borders published in 2017 a biography: Making My Pitch: A Woman's Baseball Odyssey.

Eri Yoshida, born in 1992, moved from Yokohama, Japan, to the United States in 2009. She wanted to show that she could pitch a knuckle-ball as effective as those by her idol Tim Wakefield. Yoshida appeared in the Arizona Fall League. Nicknamed The Knuckle Princess, she went on to play independent professional baseball both in the US and in Japan.

Sarah Hudek, born in 1997, pitched and played outfield for the University of Lousiana. The lefthander represented the US at the WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup 2014 and earned a scholarship to pitch for the Bossier Parish Community College. When she made her debut in 2015, she became the first girl to ever pitch for the programme.

Also in 2015, French shortstop Melissa Mayeux became the first woman to be added to Major League Baseball (MLB) international registration list.

Mayeux is currently playing for the Montpellier Barracudas in France's top baseball league.

Pitcher Stacy Piagno (then 25) and outfielder Kelsie Whitmore (then 17) signed in 2016 for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association. The Stompers also later signed Anna Kimbrell (born in 1990), a former softball catcher with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who had represented the US in four (2008-2014) WBSC Women's Baseball World Cups.

Piagno and Kimbrell became the first all-female battery in a men's baseball league. Both Piagno and Whitmore represented the US at the WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup 2018.

Toni Stone (1921-1996) was the first woman to play professional baseball in a previously all-male league. She broke the barrier in 1949 when she appeared on the San Francisco Sea Lions of the West Coast Negro Baseball Association. However, Stone was never given a chance to appear in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. According to a report published by the Washington Post short after Stone's death, the league claimed that "only white women met the exacting beauty standards."

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