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Teenage Girl Drafted into Pro Baseball

TOKYO (AP) - A 16-year-old Japanese girl is making a pitch to
become a baseball star.

The pitch is a knuckleball -- the fluttering, hard-to-hit pitch
that's rare in the major leagues. But that hasn't stopped Eri
Yoshida, who will be Japan's first female professional baseball
player. She was drafted by a team in the independent Japanese
League, which starts its inaugural season in April.

The Kobe 9 Cruise is a far cry from Tokyo's Yomiuri Giants.
Making the squad is more like earning a tentative slot on a farm
team than warming up in the bullpen for the Red Sox.

Even so, the 5-foot, 114-pound Yoshida has smashed the glass
ceiling.

Yoshida was inspired to learn how to throw the knuckler after
seeing a video of Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield. She says
she wants "to pitch against men."

For his part, Wakefield says he wishes her the "best of luck."


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