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

UPDATE: Man with gunshot wound drives into ditch on Chilliwack River Road

Serious crimes investigators believe early morning shooting to be targeted

Mother hit in Maple Ridge truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

Fee increase report is ‘not a final decision’ says mayor

Input wanted on Mission business licence fee increases, some of which were more than 1,000% higher

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man

Parmvir Chahil has strong Abbotsford ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

UPDATE: Daycare evacuated when staff spot smoke coming from air-handling unit

Everyone safe and no damage to building Thursday afternoon in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Mission’s Todd Davies Spring Break Showdown

Youth hockey tournament draws in 28 teams from nearby communities

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

B.C. pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions from around B.C. for National Puppy Day 2018

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

B.C. officials failed to tell Kiwis Fraser Health CEO had been fired in 2014

New Zealand spending scandal exposes Dr. Nigel Murray 2014 exit from B.C. job

PHOTOS: Students exhibit stunning paper couture dresses

22 paper made gowns will be on display at Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre until March 27

Most Read