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KOBE (Kyodo) High school student Eri Yoshida signed on the dotted line Tuesday after being drafted to an independent league team, making her the first woman with the opportunity to play professional baseball alongside male players in Japan.

Yoshida, 16, who has a sidearm knuckleball in the core of her arsenal of pitches, 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.

“This is a big stage. I don’t feel like I’ve become a pro baseball player but I want to do my best. I want to put an effort in how I play to be able to keep pace with the other players,” said Yoshida.

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