A woman in Puerto Rico is one step closer to making history after joining the Mountaineers of Utuado baseball team on Thursday.
Diamilette Quiles, 33, is scheduled to make her debut for the ballclub on Sunday. When she takes the field, she will become the first woman to play in the otherwise all-male Superior Double A League.
The current plan is for Quiles to take over at first base in the fifth inning of Sunday's game. The belief is she will be an immediate contributor for the team.
Ready for the challenge
Quiles represented Puerto Rico’s female national baseball team in two World Cups. This past season, she was invited to join the men’s team and more than held her own, finishing with 11 hits in 18 at-bats. That’s good for a .611 batting average.
The Superior Double A League includes 42 teams from around the islands. The Mountaineers are among the league’s most prominent and successful, having won four national championships.
The team is currently battling for home-field advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Sunday’s game is described as a key one in the standings, meaning Quiles’ debut will come in a high pressure situation.
“We’re betting on Diamilette,” manager Rafael Juarbe told the Associated Press of his decision to put Quiles in the lineup.
A huge moment for women in baseball
As Kat Williams, president of the International Women's Baseball Center, notes, Quiles is one of only four women signed by all-male baseball leagues around the world. However, Quiles’ opportunity could bring women one step closer to knocking down a huge barrier.
"This is huge," Williams said. "Until we're no longer having this conversation about how big of a deal this is ... those women are going to be carrying the weight of being the first women to do it."
Added Pedro Vargas, who is the Superior Double-A league’s executive director:
"For the first time in 80 years, a woman will be participating," Vargas said, noting many men didn't make the cut to play in the upcoming tournament. "She's going to be fighting a lot of male chauvinists out there. We think she can handle it."
Here’s hoping Quiles knows just how many people will be supporting her when she makes history.
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