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Female knuckleballer Eri Yoshida battles Carp, wants to join NPB

TOKYO (TR) – The top of the order for the Central League’s Hiroshima Toyo Carp could not contain right-handed knuckleballer Eri Yoshida, Japan’s first female professional baseball player, during an exhibition game in Hiroshima on Wednesday, reports Daily Sports (Nov. 23).

The seventeen-year-old Yoshida, nicknamed “Eri-chan,” who recently left the Kobe 9 Cruise of the Kansai Independent League, was on the mound against the “best lineup” the Hiroshima Carp were capable of fielding during the club’s “Fan Festival” on Monday at Mazda Stadium.

The exhibition was played under a special rule in which Yoshida would be declared the winner if she was able to hold the Carp to two or fewer runs in one inning.

With more than 30,000 people in attendance, star outfielder Tomonori Maeda, who has collected over 2,000 hits in twenty seasons with the club, fouled out to the catcher on an 0-1 knuckler. The Carp then pushed across a single run, sparked by a double by infielder Akihiro Higashide. But the game ended when pitcher Ryuji Yokoyama grounded into a double play.

“I could feel the pressure from the batters,” Yoshida said afterward. “I am grateful that I was given an opportunity like this today. I next want to join the Nippon Pro Baseball league.” (K.N.)