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She's on the mound for Cats

Claire Eccles steps in front of the mound for a couple easy tosses before signalling she's ready to pitch.

The catcher prepares for the delivery, neither really knowing where her knuckleball is headed. And that's the point.

"It's dancing!" the catcher blurts out after snagging the ball that dipped sharply before returning it to Eccles. She flashes a quick smile and heads back to the rubber.

A member of both the UBC Thunderbirds softball team and the Canadian women's baseball team, that knuckleball is why Eccles will be wearing another hat this summer after the Victoria HarbourCats announced Tuesday that the 19-year-old from Surrey, B.C., has joined the club for the 2017 West Coast League season.

Eccles will be the first female to compete in the 11-team circuit that's home to mostly men's university players from the United States and Canada, including some who have been drafted by major league clubs.

She will also be the first Canadian woman to suit up at this level.

"A hundred per cent, Claire is good enough to play on our team," HarbourCats general manager Brad Norris-Jones said in a recent interview prior to the official announcement. "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."

"I was obviously a little skeptical," Eccles said in an interview at UBC. "You have to wonder: 'Is this just for their own publicity?'

"Brad said I'd get fair opportunities and it's not just for show."



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