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Historical past! Brown U. freshman is first girl to play Division I baseball

March 18th, 2023PROVIDENCE, R.I. — There she was, Olivia Pichardo, making history on the field for the Brown University baseball team.On Friday, Pichardo became the first woman to play in an NCAA Division I baseball game. The freshman utility player pinch-hit for the Bears in the bottom of the ninth inning against Bryant.”It’s nice to

Historical past! Brown U. freshman is first girl to play Division I baseball

March 18th, 2023

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — There she was, Olivia Pichardo, making historical past on the sector for the Brown College baseball crew.

On Friday, Pichardo turned the primary girl to play in an NCAA Division I baseball sport. The freshman utility participant pinch-hit for the Bears within the backside of the ninth inning towards Bryant.

“It is good to get your first out of the way in which,” the 19-year-old Pichardo mentioned. “There in all probability aren’t gonna be as many nerves for the remainder of my at-bats that I get. Nevertheless it was a very particular second.”

Pichardo swung on the first pitch she noticed and grounded out to first. However there will probably be extra at-bats. And the second the Brown baseball PA announcer known as her title over the stadium loudspeakers, and she or he stepped into that left-handed batter’s field, Pichardo had taken an enormous step for the game.

“I do not really feel completely different or something,” Pichardo mentioned. “All I can say is, it was loads of enjoyable, and I am glad that I used to be in a position to get one thing out of my first at-bat. … I simply tried to deal with it like I’d another sport.”

“Truthfully, I’d say we’re simply completely satisfied for her,” senior outfielder Derian Morphew mentioned. “I do not suppose we, within the second, suppose too large of how necessary or influential of a second it’s, we’re simply excited to see her get the possibility to show what she has. Which I believed was nice at the moment. We have seen her have loads of ABs, but it surely’s an adjustment for different groups, the place I feel it might have stunned loads of them, too. And she or he simply confirmed what she’s able to.”

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Pichardo, who made the team in November, was in uniform for the primary time in Brown’s dwelling opener at Murray Stadium after not suiting up for the crew’s season-opening street journey. Within the ninth inning, coach Grant Achilles obtained her into the sport in a low-pressure state of affairs, with Brown trailing, 10-1.

“It was the end result of loads of exhausting work for Liv,” Achilles mentioned. “Actually, simply an acknowledgment that she’s part of our crew — she has been from the beginning. And she or he’s not simply right here for present. She’s right here to hack. Right here to play.”

Earlier than her at-bat, Achilles instructed Pichardo the identical factor he instructed his different gamers getting their first at-bat of the season on Friday: “Get your coronary heart price down, benefit from the second, after which go on the market and be on time for a fastball.”

“And she or he did it,” Achilles mentioned. “It is exhausting to floor your self in these moments, particularly when it is such a historic second that she’s been part of. Simply know that she was prepared for all of it alongside.”

It is necessary to notice that whereas Pichardo is now the primary girl to play Division I baseball, there’s an ever-growing historical past of girls in school baseball at different ranges — going all the way in which again to Susan Perabo at Webster College in 1987 and Julie Croteau at St. Mary’s School of Maryland in 1989.

Perabo, a second baseman, performed for Webster’s first-ever varsity baseball crew, and Croteau performed first base in her profession at St. Mary’s.

Baseball For All lists 24 girls in whole who’ve played baseball at the collegiate level by way of 2023. That features seven taking part in this season along with Pichardo:

  • Avery Smith (P/2B, Holland School)
  • Christina Elsbury (P, Gallaudet College)
  • Remi Schaber (P/INF, Hood School)
  • Alexia Jorge (C, St. Elizabeth College)
  • Skylar Kaplan (P, St. Mary’s School of Maryland)
  • Marika Lyszczyk (P, Sonoma State College) (you would possibly acknowledge her from her popular TikTok)
  • Jazzmine Rivera (P, Harry S. Truman School)

Pichardo has all the time performed baseball. Earlier than Brown, that included taking part in for the USA Baseball girls’s nationwide baseball crew in 2022.

She additionally participated in MLB’s Breakthrough Series, a program that showcases women to nationwide groups and school recruitment packages, and MLB GRIT, a pro-style exercise designed particularly for younger feminine athletes to showcase their skill as baseball gamers.

In these packages, Pichardo caught the attention of Mets director of Main League operations Liz Benn, who was then working for the league workplace, earlier than she turned the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations in Mets franchise history. Benn first noticed Pichardo at age 13 and watched Pichardo come up by way of MLB’s youth packages, getting higher each time she noticed her. 

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“It is actually thrilling, but it surely’s additionally not stunning in any respect,” Benn mentioned of Pichardo taking part in in Division I. “There was one yr that she did loads of work within the offseason and developed a ton. Ever since then, she was turning heads in every single place. And the way in which that we noticed her, we had been like, ‘If there’s anybody in the highschool program who can do it proper now, it is positively Olivia.’”

However the one who’s watched Pichardo the longest: her dad, Max, who’s been there for every step of the journey, from Forest Hills, Queens, to Windfall. He was there on Friday to see her take her first school at-bat.

“Typically the second is so large that it would not hit you till a lot later,” he mentioned after the sport. “It is actually exhausting to place it into context, as a result of it is like, each single expertise that you simply had, led to this. Realizing all the pieces that she went by way of to get right here, it simply makes all of it price it.”

When Pichardo got here out of the dugout because the on-deck batter to start out the ninth, the mother and father round Max Pichardo within the stands began shaking him. When she stepped to the plate, he mentioned, he was certain he was extra nervous than she was. However one pitch — one swing — later? Pleasure.

“I simply could not be happier,” he mentioned. “Her being aggressive, going at it, first pitch, put the bat on it.”

Extra girls will observe Pichardo and the others taking part in school baseball onto the sector. They already are.

“I actually hope that,” Pichardo mentioned. “My dad really instructed me yesterday that my Little League reached out to him and instructed him that much more women are beginning to register for Forest Hills Little League, which is the place I grew up taking part in. That actually meant lots to me.”

Benn sees it occurring, too — a pipeline forming for ladies from youth baseball to varsity. 

“Yearly there’s increasingly,” Benn mentioned. “They’re getting extra taking part in time, they’re taking part in in greater high quality packages. So it is simply actually thrilling to see. It is positively not an anomaly anymore.”

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