Claire Eccles has ended her university softball career in style – with a pair of end-of-season honours.
The 21-year-old Elgin Park Secondary grad – and former White Rock Renegade – wrapped up her senior year with the University of British Columbia last month, and was honoured twice by the Cascade Collegiate Conference, in which the T-Birds play.
Eccles, an outfielder, was selected for the First All-Conference Team and also named a Gold Glove winner for her defensive play. During the season, she hit .362 with three home runs, four triples 16 runs-batted-in. She also finished tied for first in the entire conference in fielding percentage, with no errors and 48 putouts in 37 games.
In addition to her skills on the softball diamond, Eccles is also one of the country’s top young female baseball players – as a pitcher – and is a member of the Canadian women’s national baseball team that competed in Women’s Baseball World Cup tournaments, including the 2018 event in which Canada won bronze.
In 2017, she also garnered attention when she suited up for the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League, becoming the first female player in league history.
The left-handed knuckleballer returned to the West Coast League last summer as well – with Victoria even honouring her with her own bobblehead doll – but she is not eligible to play this year, as the WCL is a summer league for current college players only, and Eccles has now graduated.
However, her association with the HarbourCats is set to last much longer than her two-summer stint with the club, as the team was set to recognize her trailblazing ways Monday (June 17) by retiring her No. 8 jersey.
Eccles went 2-0 with two starts and nine relief appearances, striking out three batters, in her games with the HarbourCats.
“Claire Eccles has meant more to the HarbourCats — and for that matter, the entire West Coast League — than mere statistics can suggest, and this honour is wonderfully deserved,” the league’s commissioner, Rob Neyer, said in a news release.
The jersey retirement was announced last January.
“Hitters respected her, that’s for sure, tipped their caps. It was always interesting to watch the varied reactions, and I hope she taught something to us all,” said HarbourCats managing partner Jim Swanson at the time.
– with files from Travis Paterson