St. Patrick's Day, which happened last Friday, is often known as a day of good luck. But there was nothing lucky about what happened to Olivia Pichardo.
On March 17, years of hard work and determination paid as this athlete from Queens, New York made history. She became the first female to play in a Division 1 baseball game!
The 18-year-old plays for Brown University, an Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island. In last Friday's game, the left-hander came on in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter. Although she grounded out (meaning the ball she hit traveled along the ground and she was thrown out by an opposing infielder), her appearance still marked a major milestone in her barrier-breaking journey.
As she told People in January, "When I was little, I didn't know there were other girls playing baseball. Inspiring girls is my biggest motivator." And we're certainly inspired! Watch her talk about her first at-bat below.
The first of many more to come ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/iqLPY3SIXJ
— Brown Baseball (@BrownU_Baseball) March 18, 2023
Changing the script
As Olivia mentions in her above quote, it can be hard at first to find examples of women playing baseball. But more and more young girls are playing the sport. In fact, we wrote about a Canadian one last summer, Jaida Lee, a pitcher from St. John's, Newfoundland. Jaida broke a similar barrier in July 2022, when she played in the Canada Games.
For decades, most females have played a similar sport called softball. This sport is much like baseball, but features a few key differences, such as a larger ball and underarm pitching. Though softball is quite popular among teen girls, more and more young women like Olivia and Jaida are being drawn to baseball. They want to play the same sport that the boys are playing.
That goal is what drove Olivia since she was a little girl. She knew she had the right stuff to compete and wouldn't let anyone tell her that she couldn't do it. This determination led to her trying out for the Brown team last fall.
When she was told in November that she had made the cut, she became national news. In this interview with the MLB network, Olivia talks about her passion for the sport and proving doubters wrong.
So what does the future hold for Olivia? For now, she is looking forward to playing in many more games for Brown. She is also a member of the U.S. Women's National Baseball team. Looks like there's a lot of baseball to come!
But maybe most importantly, she is focused on getting the most out of her education at one of the United States' top universities. She's not only a great athlete, she is an exceptional student, too, and both things are important to her.
In her People interview, she said "I knew that I wanted and could play college baseball, but the problem was finding the right school that fit me academically and where I would join the baseball team."
At Brown, she is working on a degree in business economics and even has hopes of one day working in the front offices of a Major League Baseball team. (The front office is a team's management, which picks players and makes decisions about the club's future.)
Whether as a player, a manager, an administrator, or a scout, we're excited to see how baseball continues to be a part of her life!