For the first time in league history, a woman will suit up in the Canadian College Baseball Conference next season.
Vancouver Island University Mariners baseball club announced this week the signing of Alli Schroder, a right-handed pitcher from the Kootenays for the 2021-22 season. According to Baseball Canada’s website, Schroder is the first woman to commit to a CCBC program.
The 18-year-old Fruitvale native is a veteran of the national women’s team and helped Team Canada advance in World Cup qualifiers two summers ago.
After graduating high school last year, Schroder took a year away from school and has had limited opportunities to play baseball in a pandemic. She practised and played with the Cranbrook Bandits club team when she could, but has mostly been doing individual training, finding someone to throw to, motivated to play college ball and stay in the mix for the national team.
Schroder wanted to stay in Canada and decided that VIU was the “perfect fit” for her to study environmental science and pursue athletics.
“VIU had it all for me,” she said. “Also [being] from the other side of the province, almost, living in the Kootenays, I thought it would be a pretty cool opportunity to live on the coast for a little while.”
She said she’s personally been “super fortunate” in the past with being accepted on teams of boys and men – they’ve seen she can play and contribute, so gender hasn’t been an issue.
“I know that this hasn’t been the case for a lot of girls,” she said. “There’s been teams that we’ve played against that aren’t super receptive, but every team that I’ve personally played on, they’ve been awesome.”
She said coming to the VIU Mariners as a rookie, she’ll recognize her role, know that opportunities will come through work ethic, and will be ready to contribute to the team in any way she’s asked.
Her change-up and her two-seam fastball are her best pitches and she’s looking forward to seeing how she fares against CCBC batters.
“I’ve always played against big guys … you kind of just have to find your own advantages and know yourself, know how you play,” Schroder said. “I’m excited to see the competition and I’ll just have to find my place there.”
As for her place in league history, Schroder is willing to embrace the role of an advocate for women in men’s sports. Girls who play baseball sometimes switch to softball when they reach college, but Schroder said there are pathways to keep playing baseball and maybe she can “blaze a trail.”
“But at the end of the day, I’m also just a player,” she said. “I’m excited to contribute to the team any way possible and I’m more focused on just being looked at as a baseball player.”