Brown University freshman Olivia Pichardo made NCAA history this week by becoming the first woman to be named to a Division I varsity baseball roster.
The 18-year-old from Queens, N.Y., began her collegiate baseball journey this semester while participating in walk-on tryouts for the Bears baseball team. Then Pichardo completed an assessment process which included practices and workouts with the current roster.
“It was definitely a surreal moment for me because it’s something that I’ve wanted since eighth grade, Pichardo said, via Brown’s press release. “It’s kind of crazy to know that I’m living out my dream right now and my ideal college experience that I’ve always wanted, so that’s really cool.”
Pichardo noted that she’s been playing baseball since she was in kindergarten. She also made the roster for the 2022 USA Baseball Women’s National Team as a right-handed pitcher and outfielder. The tournament was held by Baseball For All, a nonprofit organization that strives to provide women with more opportunities in the sport.
According to Baseball for All, 20 women have appeared on collegiate baseball rosters previously, with at least eight poised to play next season. But none have played at the Division I level. Julie Croteau was the first woman to make a collegiate baseball roster in 1989 at Division III St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
“I’m just really glad that we’re having more and more female baseball players at the collegiate level, and no matter what division, it’s just really good to see this progression,” Pichardo said. “It’s really paving the way for other girls in the next generation to also have these goals that they want to achieve and dream big and know that they can do it.”
Brown coach Grant Achilles praised the freshman for her tryout performance, which led her to making the roster.
“Olivia put together the most complete walk-on tryout I have seen from a player since becoming a head coach,” Achilles said.
Pichardo will serve as a utility player, playing both the infield and outfield during the upcoming season, which begins in February 2023.
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