Minor League Team Signs Female Pitcher
Eri Yoshida, Japan's first pro woman player, comes to US
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2010 10:54 AM CDT
Kobe 9 Cruise's Eri Yoshida, center, delivers a pitch in the ninth inning during a game against the Osaka Gold Villicanes at Osaka Dome in Osaka, Japan, Friday, March 27, 2009.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News, Yohei Fukuyama)
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(Newser) – Eri Yoshida, Japan’s first female pro baseball player, has signed to pitch for a minor league club in California. The 18-year-old knuckleballer will play for the independent Chico Outlaws, though the team stresses that she’ll have to earn her roster spot in spring training, the Enterprise-Record reports. “It’s important that we don’t cross the line to being a circus,” the team’s president said. “We don’t want to bring her on if she can’t compete.”

It’s been more than a decade since a woman played pro baseball in the US. Yoshida impressed the Outlaws in the Arizona Winter League, where she posted a 4.70 ERA in 10 appearances and displayed a professional demeanor beyond her years. Her bread-and-butter is a 50mph knuckleball she learned by watching Tim Wakefield on TV. “US hitters are trained to prepare for fastballs in the 90s,” says one Outlaws outfielder, “so man, it’s difficult to gauge just how to swing against her.”