Saturday, 6th December 2008
Schoolgirl becomes Japan's first female baseball pro
A schoolgirl has become the first professional baseball player in Japan after signing a contract with Kobe 9 Cruise.
Eri Yoshida, who is just 16 years old, was selected along with 31 male players in a league draft to play for the team next year.
Speaking at a news conference after signing her contract, Ms Yoshida commented: "I still don't feel like I've really become a pro baseball player, but I want to do my best.
"My specialty is the knuckleball, so I really want to be able to get batters out using it effectively."
She began playing baseball when she was in the second grade and cites Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield as her sporting inspiration.
Her team will play in the new, independent Japanese League which hopes to challenge the established Central and Pacific leagues.
News commentators have welcomed the signing as a barrier-breaking development for female sports players.