<
>

Female knuckleballer Claire Eccles joins West Coast League

Claire Eccles will join the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League to become the the first woman to compete in the Canada's 11-team circuit.

Eccles, a left-handed pitcher from Surrey, British Columbia, with a knuckleball as her main pitch, will be playing in the 2017 season of a summer baseball league that attracts some of the best collegiate level baseball players in North America.

"I never thought I could get an opportunity like this," Eccles said. "I'm obviously not going to be the fastest pitcher in the league, but I have some good off-speed pitches that will keep hitters on their toes."

Eccles is one of the top pitchers for the Baseball Canada Women's National Team and has played for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds for the past two seasons. Her former college congratulated Eccles on Twitter.

"A hundred percent Claire is good enough to play on our team," HarbourCats general manager Brad Norris-Jones told CBC before signing Eccles. "Is it going to be a challenge for Claire? Absolutely. We're just going to get everyone involved and show that in 2017 this isn't different, this isn't weird. It's normal."

At just 19 years old, Eccles has already pitched in two Women's Baseball World Cups and the 2015 Pan-Am Games.

The HarbourCats' 54-game season will start May 30.