The nation’s baseball action heads to Yucatán in the winter, and this season is already noteworthy for a break in the gender barrier.
With her 78-mile-per-hour fastball, pitcher Rosa Maria del Castillo became the first female player in a Mexican semi-pro men’s baseball league in Mérida.
The right-hander’s pitch repertoire includes a fastball, a curveball and a change-up, which is not bad for an 18-year-old who stands barely 1.72 meters, or 5.6 feet, tall.
“I want to believe that more doors will begin to open for women in baseball, although it won’t happen quickly,” she told Agence France Presse.
“Rosy,” as she is better known, plays for the Azulejos of Tamanche, in the Mérida League.
While her pitch velocity is slower than the male average of 92 miles (150 kilometers) per hour, she was good enough to strike out two batters in her second game a week ago, when her team ravaged the Constructores de Morelos 13-3.
She was less nervous and more poised than in her Nov. 29 debut, when the team lost 6-4 to the Senators and she gave up three hits while getting one out.
Rosy was discovered last year during practice in Mérida with other women from leagues across the country.
Her teammates were initially taken aback when they learned that a woman would join the bullpen, but they quickly adapted, said team manager Oswaldo Morejon, who sees her as a pioneer who can “open doors to Mexican baseball for other women.”
There are no rules against women playing in men’s baseball, but traditionally female players were steered to softball instead.
“I played softball, but it’s not the same thing. I don’t like it. Baseball’s the thing for me,” Rosy told AFP.
While she dreams of playing in the Mexican big leagues, Rosy also wants to get a scholarship to study sports marketing in the United States or land a contract to play baseball in Japan, the only country with a professional women’s league.
Rosy was invited to an international women’s baseball showcase tournament in the United States that will take place in June next year. She will join Melissa Mayeux, 17, a shortstop from France who this year was the first female placed on U.S. Major League Baseball’s international registration list, making her eligible to be signed by clubs.
Source: Agence France Presse