Chico’s newest outlaw: Knuckleballer Yoshida introduced by team

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Eri Yoshida, photo courtesy of Kyodo News

CHICO, Calif. (Kyodo) — The Chico Outlaws of the U.S. independent league on May 7 introduced their new addition: a female knuckleballer from Japan.

“My name is Eri Yoshida. I am a knuckleballer,” the 18-year-old said after slipping on a No. 3 jersey at a press conference in Chico on the day she arrived from Japan.

“I will try the best I can and work as hard as I can,” Yoshida said through a translator. “I’m ready to show what I can do on the mound.”

The press conference attracted about 40 people, including local baseball fans.

Yoshida became the first Japanese woman to play professional baseball alongside men when she made a relief appearance for the Kobe 9 Cruise in the Kansai Independent League in March last year.

Yoshida opted for the Outlaws over the Mie Three Arrows of the new independent Japan-Future League after taking part in the Arizona Winter League in February.

“Once you see her on the field, you see immediately that she has a lot of baseball knowledge,” Outlaws manager Garry Templeton said. “I think I was a little shocked the first time I saw her myself. She knows a lot about the game and can really play.”

In March, Yoshida received hands-on instructions from her idol Tim Wakefield at the Boston Red Sox’s spring training complex in Florida.

She planned to join the team’s training camp on May 8 to prepare for its season-opening game on May 21. The Golden Baseball League’s season runs through early September.

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