Japanese girl signs pro baseball contract

>> Sunday, January 4, 2009

From the JapanBall News Service:

High school student Eri Yoshida signed to play for an independent league team, making her the first woman with the opportunity to play professional baseball alongside male players in Japan.

The 16-year-old Yoshida, who has a side-arm knuckleball in the core of her arsenal of pitches, was picked by the Kobe 9 Cruise in the seventh round of the amateur draft held by the teams joining the Kansai independent league to be inaugurated next April.

Yoshida will transfer from Kawasaki Kita high school in Kanagawa Prefecture to a high school in the Kansai region, where she aims to pursue a career in baseball while also attending to her studies.

Kobe 9 Cruise manager Yoshihiro Nakata said he initially wants to use Yoshida in a game where the team has a big lead.

In Japan, a women's professional baseball federation was established in 1950 but its activities ceased after two years. No woman has played as a pro since Nippon Professional Baseball in 1991 dropped a clause that had kept the door shut for women from a medical viewpoint.

The four-team Kansai independent league also features the Osaka Gold Villicanes, Akashi Red Soldiers and Kishu Rangers.

Gambatte, Eri!

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