Five women playing baseball right now that you should pay attention to
Today is International Women's Day, a holiday dedicated to "celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women." And while women have made waves in all aspects of the game recently, it's time to celebrate the ones excelling between the lines -- right alongside men.
The French shortstop burst onto the scene back in 2015, when she became the first woman to be added to MLB's international registration list -- making her officially eligible to be signed by a Major League club. In the years since, she's learned from former big league greats at the European Elite Camp and represented her country on both the national softball and U18 baseball teams.
She currently plays for the Montpelier Barracudas of France's top division, and she has no plans of giving up the game any time soon: "I'd like to stay in baseball as long as possible," she told MLB.com's Lindsey Berra. With a swing like this, we'll definitely be hearing from her again:
16-year-old French shortstop prospect Melissa Mayeux takes part in the 2015 European Elite Camp.https://t.co/52OK2Z3jm4— MLB (@MLB) August 4, 2015
Hudek can lay claim to some history of her own, becoming the first woman to ever receive a scholarship to play college baseball back in Feb. 2015. A year later, the self-described "crafty lefty" earned her first collegiate win, pitching 2 2/3 innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen to help Bossier Parish Community College (La.) top then-No. 9 Hinds Community College (Miss.).
Come for the fastball/curveball combination, stay for the purple and yellow riff on the classic '80s White Sox uniforms:
Inspired by catching a Tim Wakefield start on TV, Yoshida taught herself how to throw a knuckleball -- at the age of 14. She quickly became a high school star in her native Japan, and, just two years later, she became the first woman to be drafted by a Japanese professional team, signing with the Kobe 9 Cruise of the Kansai Independent Baseball League.
Naturally, it was only a matter of time before a nickname popped up: The Knuckle Princess.
In 2009, Yoshida decided to come to the States to pursue her dream of playing in the Major Leagues. She pitched in the Arizona Winter League -- even throwing four shutout innings in a win over Team Canada -- before signing with the independent Chico Outlaws, becoming the first woman to play professional baseball in America in over a decade.
Yoshida returned to Japan back in 2013, where she still pitches for the Tochigi Golden Braves.
Kelsie Whitmore and Stacy Piagno
You might remember Whitmore and Piagno, the U.S. National Team duo who signed with the independent Sonoma Stompers just last year. Whitmore, 17, started in left field and made some history with her first hit ... just a few days after Piagno, a 25-year-old pitcher, had notched her first strikeout:
Sonoma wasn't done, though. In August, the team signed USWNT catcher Anna Kimbrell, putting together the first all-female battery since the All-American Professional Girls Baseball League during World War II:
Alas, the three women couldn't hang around forever -- they had to play for their country in the Women's World Cup that fall, where the U.S. was eliminated in group play despite a 2-1 record. Still, their impact was a lot larger than just a couple months of games. As Whitmore put it:
"Growing up I never really had a female baseball player that was at a high level that I [could] look up to. To think that, 'Hey, everything's gonna be okay because they're doing it, so I can do it.' I never had that growing up. I want to be that for younger girls."