The Victoria HarbourCats have signed the first woman to play in the West Coast League, Claire Eccles.
The baseball club announced Tuesday that the 19-year-old from Surrey B.C. will participate in the 2017 West Coast Season.
Eccles is a member of the UBC Thunderbirds softball team and the Canadian women’s baseball team. She will be the first female to compete in the 11-team circuit whose members are mostly men’s university players from Canada and the United States. Some have been drafted by major league clubs.
“It’s a big day for myself and obviously any girl who has a dream of playing baseball after high school,” Eccles said at a news conference Tuesday.
Eccles, who has said Ichiro Suzuki is one of her idols, will be a left-handed relief pitcher. Her main pitches are her knuckleball and curveball.
The pitcher played on boys’ baseball teams until she was 14 when her parents made her switch to softball. Afterwards, Eccles learned about the women’s provincial baseball program. She made the national team at age 16 and pitched at the last two Women’s Baseball World Cups for Canada. Eccles also pitched in the 2015 Pan Am Games.