In part one of this piece, one of five pieces in our Women in Baseball series, EBSM spoke with French baseball player Melissa Mayeux.
Laura Hirai is another 16-year old European ballplayer. She plays for the Great Britain Mets. EBSM spoke with her about her baseball ambitions. She replied, “There is a girl in London who’s only 5’, who’s only 16 years old, who plays baseball with boys, who wants to play baseball in the major leagues and wants to be just as good as them.”
Hirai was introduced to the game while her family lived in Japan. She became involved with the sport around age five. In 2009, she joined a local team that, she says, got her more into the competitive mood. “I was really enthusiastic about the sport. I didn’t actually realize I was the only girl there. It just never came across that it was a boy’s sport if you know what I mean.
During a game in 2011 the team’s ace pitcher injured his arm. This is how Hirai’s pitching career began. “For some reason, I had the strongest arm out of all the boys. The coach put me on the mound and I just tried to copy the A-pitcher. Coach started to like my pitching and my mechanics so he helped me develop into a pitcher.”
In 2012, while playing with the Mets, Hirai was approached by the U13 GB softball coach. “I didn’t know the rules or anything but I just thought it was kind of similar to baseball so I just went along. When I went to my first competition it was just girls. I only saw girls. I came with girls. From then on I realized that softball’s a women’s sport and baseball’s a men’s sport so I had to adjust myself to that. That’s when I felt, ‘Oh, okay, so this is a female sport.’ When I was playing baseball I was with boys.
I think because I’m playing with girls I feel like, ‘Oh’, we all know what we are feeling. We can, I don’t know, it’s like we know each other a bit more, but boys, you know, they like to mess about and do their own thing and they have their own, I don’t know, gossip and stuff, so I think that was the difference.
Ever since I started playing baseball it’s been my ambition to play until the top level whether that’s playing at college or playing for the GB Men’s team or just pushing myself to the moment where I know that I’ve achieved something that any other girl could achieve but, for myself really. Laura says, “I want any girl to push herself and achieve something no one else has.”