Surrey’s Eccles to pitch for Victoria Harbourcats

Elgin Park Secondary graduate will be the first woman to pitch in West Coast League

Surrey’s Claire Eccles will pitch for the Victoria Harbourcats of the West Coast League this summer. (Photo: Baseball Canada)

After two seasons playing outfield for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, Claire Eccles is a few weeks away from making baseball history.

The 19-year-old left-hander from Surrey will pitch for the Victoria Harbourcats in the upcoming West Coast League season. Eccles will become the first woman to play in the WCL, a league made up primarily of university players, some of whom have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams.

“I’ve been playing baseball for a long time and have been a pitcher for my entire career so when I switched to softball it just wasn’t the same,” said Eccles, who has been with Baseball Canada’s national women’s team for the past four years. “I’m very excited. Victoria is really behind this team and I’m lucky to play for such a great organization as the Harbourcats.”

Eccles isn’t going to be able to throw as fast as her male rivals, but her knuckleball and curveball pitches are very effective, said Harbourcats general manager Brad Norris-Jones.

“If we strictly went on her velocity, I don’t think she could compete at this level,” he told Canadian Press. “But her knuckleball definitely competes at this level. That’s what we were very excited about.”

“I’m obviously not going to be the fastest pitcher in the league,” said Eccles. “But I have some good off-speed pitches that will keep hitters on their toes.”

rick.kupchuk@surreynowleader.com