First female in league history

The Victoria HarbourCats are breaking down baseball stereotypes

A historic announcement was made at Royal Athletic Park this afternoon when the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League announced the signing of 19-year-old Claire Eccles.

The left-handed pitcher from White Rock becomes the first female player in league history and will make her debut with the team on June 6 in Victoria.

“I’m extremely excited to be getting the opportunity to play at such a high level of ball and being the first female in Canada to do so,” said Eccles.

“The HarbourCats seem like an amazing organization and I can’t wait to play for them. As much as this is an accomplishment for myself, I can’t help but realize that this is a step in the right direction for any girl with a dream of playing baseball.”

Standing 5’8, Eccles realizes she won’t be able to overpower batters. Instead she will rely on her pitching repertoire that includes off speed pitches with lots of movement and a knuckleball that she’s been tinkering with for years.

“In warmup we practiced throwing it just for fun, mine just seemed to work,” she said. “I played around with it for a while and as I got older, I realized I could actually throw this in a game.”

A graduate of Elgin Park Secondary in Surrey, B.C., Eccles played outfield for the University of British Columbia softball team this spring and represented Canada at the 2016 Women’s Baseball World Cup in South Korea last September. She is a two-way player for Team Canada (pitcher and outfielder) and made her debut with the national squad when she was 17.

“We are excited to add Claire to the HarbourCats and can’t wait to see her getting a chance to throw for us and compete for innings out of the bullpen,” said Brad Norris-Jones, General Manager for the team.

“Claire has competed at and been successful at many levels of the game, playing against both women and men. We think her poise on the mound and experience internationally will give her a chance to get the outs we need.”

While Eccles is slated to begin her career in the pen, Norris-Jones didn’t rule out having her start games at some point this season.

As for any added pressure above and beyond being labeled the first female player in league history, Eccles shrugged off questions about her future success or failure reflecting on other females trying to play a male-dominated sport at a high level.

“There are probably a lot of girls better than me out there somewhere, but just don’t get the same opportunity as I have. So I think it opens more people to the idea that girls can play baseball,” she said.

Instead Eccles is excited about getting on the mound and maybe getting into the head of opposing batters.

 

Just Posted

Before and After: Quatse River Dumpsite Cleanup

The area looks spotless thanks to volunteers who cleaned up the site

Future of Port Alice debated at town hall

Candidates tackled tough questions about Neucel and tourism

Toyota Expedition 3.0 ready to hit the North Island backroads

‘The 3.0 is because this is the third time we are doing this’

The Sointula Art Shed draws artists to the North Island

Current Artist-in-Residence Emma Rush performed a concert at the Athletic Hall

Gwa’sala-‘nakwaxda’xw hosts Murdered and Missing Women’s Memorial March

The Feb. 14 march took place from Tsulquate Bridge to Wakas Hall

WATCH: Vancouver Island man catches dashcam video of near head-on crash

Video shows oncoming van cross over centre line

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Canucks came out hot, beat Bruins 6-1

Loui Eriksson scores twice, catapulting Vancouver to a lopsided victory over Boston

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Vancouver Island job market ever-evolving

Various sectors driving employment in region will be represented at Black Press career fair in Comox Feb. 8

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

District of Port Hardy receives ESS grant funding

District gets $23,361.88 grant fund for its Emergency Social Services Program Enhancement project.

Most Read