Knuckleballer Claire Eccles becomes first woman to compete in West Coast League

This summer, Claire Eccles will make baseball history. The 19-year-old knuckleballer will become the first woman to compete in the West Coast League, an 11-team collegiate summer league. She'll pitch for the Victoria HarbourCats.

"A hundred percent Claire is good enough to play on our team," said HarbourCats general manager Brad Norris-Jones to CBC (via ESPN). "Is it going to be a challenge for Claire? Absolutely. We're just going to get everyone involved and show that in 2017 this isn't different, this isn't weird. It's normal." 

Eccles has spent the last two years pitching for the University of British Columbia. She is also one of the top pitchers on Canada's women's national team. At least one big leaguer noticed and congratulated Eccles for breaking the league's gender barrier:

The West Coast League season begins May 30. Notable big leaguers who have played in the league include Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, Rays righty Matt Andriese, Rays infielder Matt Duffy, and Tigers lefty Matt Boyd.

Last year the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association signed two female players.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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