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Borders Earns Roster Spot With Minor League Saints

May 29, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The St. Paul Saints told Ila Borders on Wednesday that she had earned a spot on his pitching staff. She will become the first woman to pitch in a regular-season minor league game, perhaps as early as Friday when the independent Saints play their Northern League opener at Sioux Falls.

"I told her in any other given year if we had a stronger rookie staff to draw from you might not have made the club," Manager Marty Scott said. "But based on what we have here and what you've shown, combined with your desire and your work ethic and your love for the game, you're going to break with the team."

Borders, a left-hander who played at Whittier Christian and Southern California College, gave up six runs and six hits in three innings during the Saints' four-game exhibition season. Five of those runs came in one inning; she retired three of the four hitters she faced in each of the other two innings.

When she makes her first appearance, Borders will join outfielder Kendra Hanes as the only women to play in a regular-season minor league game. Hanes played sparingly for the now-defunct Kentucky Rifles in the independent Frontier League in 1994.

"I'm pretty excited, but I'm pretty stressed, too, in a way," Borders said.

At 5-foot-10 and 130 pounds, Borders' biggest liability is her fastball. She has been clocked in the low 80s, but most often throws in the high 70s. That worries Scott, who was the Texas Rangers' farm director for 10 seasons before an organizational shake-up in 1994.

"Her velocity is still short, and because of that I really don't feel like she's going to progress up the ladder professionally," Scott said. "I've done this for 17 years now, and I feel like I know what I'm talking about. But I also think I've been wrong a couple of times."

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