Beacon Hill Little Leaguer Tess Sawkins (left) met Victoria HarbourCats’ pitcher Claire Eccles before Sunday’s game. Contributed photo.

Beacon Hill Little Leaguer Tess Sawkins (left) met Victoria HarbourCats’ pitcher Claire Eccles before Sunday’s game. Contributed photo.

Beacon Hill Little Leaguer meets Claire Eccles

Eccles inspiring new generation of baseball players

A Beacon Hill Little Leaguer had the opportunity to meet the Victoria HarbourCats’ first female pitcher over the weekend.

On Sunday, 12-year-old Tess Sawkins was invited to shake hands and meet Claire Eccles before Sunday’s game at Royal Athletic Park, which was also Eccles’ first start on the mound in the West Coast League. The rookie pitcher held the Kitsap Bluejackets to a pair of runs over three innings of work in an 11-2 Victoria HarbourCats win on Father’s Day.

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“It was really awesome, she was really nice,” said Sawkins on meeting Eccles.

Similar to Eccles, Sawkins is a left-handed pitcher and grew up playing baseball on male-dominated teams — something they talked about during their meeting.

Sawkins, who has been playing baseball for the past four years with the Beacon Hill Little League, said meeting Eccles has inspired her to try and work her way up to one day play in the WCL as well.

“One day I want to play at that high level. I think more females should play baseball,” she said. “(Claire) has speed, but not as high as the boys, but she’s very tricky. She out thinks the batters with her different pitches, which is cool. She really inspired me to think differently about baseball, so see it more as a team sport and not to think differently because you’re a girl.”

The HarbourCats signed the 5’8’-tall, 19-year-old Eccles last month.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com