OSAKA (Kyodo) High school student Eri Yoshida was drafted by an independent league team Sunday, opening the way for her to become the first woman to play professional baseball alongside male players in Japan.

The 16-year-old Yoshida, who attends Kawasaki Kita High School in Kanagawa Prefecture, was picked by the Kobe 9 Cruise in the seventh round of the amateur draft held by the teams joining the Kansai Independent League to be inaugurated next April.

With a side-armed knuckleball in her arsenal, Yoshida took part in a tryout held earlier this month and passed with flying colors.

The right-hander held male batters hitless for one inning in the final tryout and her successful outing helped her become one of the 33 players picked in the draft.

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