tagged w/ Chico Outlaws
(Chico, CA. July 20, 2011) The Chico Outlaws of the North American League, the premier independent minor league in western North America, today announced that Japanese pitching sensation Eri Yoshida has agreed to terms and will rejoin the Chico Outlaws. She will report to Chico immediately and will start on the mound this Friday night versus the Maui Na Koa Ikaika at Nettleton Stadium as she returns to the team that she won a league championship with last season.
Yoshida, 19, made headlines and impressed the baseball world last summer when she became the first female to play professionally in Japan and the U.S. Equipped with a sidearm knuckleball that is considered almost unhittable when she is on, she has played for the Kobe Cruise 9 of the Kansai League in Japan and then in the Arizona Winter League in the U.S. in 2010 and 2011 and also with the Chico Outlaws last year. She also became the first female pro player to have a hit and an RBI in a professional men's league and her jersey and bat from the 2010 Chico Outlaws were requested by, and are displayed in, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. She began playing baseball in the 2nd grade and credits Tim Wakefield as the inspiration for her 50 mph knuckleball delivered from her 5 foot 1 inch, 115 lb frame.
She made 8 starts for the Outlaws last year before ending her season early with a tired arm. Fully recovered, she pitched in the Arizona Winter League this February, but the tragic events in Japan in March sidetracked her ability to be ready to rejoin Chico in May when the season started. Turning down offers from Japanese minor league teams, she joined the amateur All Samurai Japan team to get fully prepared and also to be showcased to MLB scouts as the team traveled to southern California early this summer. She had a number of tryouts with MLB teams and was impressive, but did not receive a contract offer as she needed to demonstrate her effectiveness in a professional league against quality and experienced pro hitters.
"We are thrilled to have Eri back and pitching for the Outlaws again," said Chico Outlaws team president and manager Mike Marshall. "The Outlaws are one of the leading teams in moving players to major league organizations and will be a fine showcase for her to show her talent. In addition, our fans will be excited as she was a big favorite last year and was quite a hit in the community and with the youth of Chico."
Yoshida will take the mound this Friday night and will be facing the Maui Na Koa Ikaika who are managed this year by Yoshida's skipper from last season, Garry Templeton, and also three Chico Outlaws that were traded to Maui in the offseason as she returns to the town that embraced her with incredible support and provided her the opportunity to realize her dream of playing minor league baseball in the U.S.
"I am grateful for this opportunity to pitch for the Chico Outlaws again," said Yoshida. "This is a dream come true for me and I hope that I can contribute to the team to help them win and also to continue to improve as a pro baseball player."
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