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International Women’s Day Feature: Allison Schroder

By Melissa Verge

There’s no words of encouragement, just stark silence, as a right hander delivers pitch after pitch off the mound in Fruitvale, B.C.

A practice partner is hard to find in Alli Schroder’s hometown of less than 4,000 people, but with the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup Finals less than six months away, she still needs to get her work in.

It’s the self motivation that has Schroder pitching into a net in February that has helped her break down barriers in the sport for other women.

The longtime pitcher on the Women’s National Team didn’t look like any of the other players in the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference three years ago, but that didn’t deter her.

The only thing that mattered was the right hander could throw a baseball.

“Fierce” - that’s how her coach on the Women’s National Team, Kate Psota, describes her playing style. She’s focused, driven, a true competitor. And, “she throws a really really mean slider,” Psota said. “She has a way of just keeping hitters off balance.”

Cutting across the dirt to the pitcher's mound for Vancouver Island University, she became the first woman to play in the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference in 2021.

That first has produced a domino effect, helping drive change in the sport for other young women in Canada. After her, there’s been more women to play in the league, with fellow Women’s National Team player Raine Padgham playing for Thompson Rivers University.

“I think that’s pretty exciting to see that I was able to be the first, but more importantly it blazed a trail,” the now 21-year-old Schroder said. “And for girls who maybe didn’t think of that as a league they could play in, now it’s totally on their radar.”

Along with playing for Vancouver Island University, she’s been suiting up for the Women’s National Team since she was a 16-year-old. She wasn’t aware of the opportunities for her in women’s baseball, until an impactful first meeting with another Fruitvaleian, Ella Matteucci. 

Matteucci walked over to her house one night, and asked the then 12-year-old  if she’d ever heard of women's baseball. That’s a moment she looks back on as a pivotal one. From there she went on to play for Team B.C., Team Canada prospects, and on the Women’s National Team.

Being part of the program has introduced Schroder to an incredible community of women who have grown up facing similar situations she did, she said, whether that be an instance of discrimination or having to push harder on the field than their counterparts. 

It also showed girls in her community what the opportunities are if they decide to pursue baseball. With the success Matteucci and Schroder have had in the sport, they’re growing the game in their hometown of Fruitvale. When Schroder was younger she was the only girl on the team, and now when she goes back, there’s multiple girls playing on her little league team, she said. 

“It shows me that things are changing,” she said. “Girls want to play, they’re excited to play, they want to play at the baseball field,” she said. “And I really want to keep that ball rolling and see more and more girls playing.”

Promoting women’s baseball in Canada is important to continue to drive that change, she said, so young girls know they’re are avenues to take in the sport if they push hard.

Despite progress, they’re still having similar conversations as they were 20 years ago when the Women’s National Team was formed in 2004, Psota said, who has been with the program since its inception. 

“Like, ‘I didn’t know women played baseball, I thought they only played softball,’” Psota said. “So just growing the game within our own country and globally would be sort of our goal and our dream.”

Baseball fans across the country can watch as the Women’s National Team takes the field in Thunder Bay July 28th - August 3rd for the Women's Baseball World Cup.

For girls watching across Canada, it’s important they follow their passion and go after their goals, said Schroder, who will be following her own goal of a gold medal at the tournament. Nine years ago she didn’t realize there were opportunities in women's baseball, and now she’ll be playing in a World Cup.

“[For young girls] anything they’re passionate about they can do, and that there shouldn’t be any limits on their passion, such as gender,” she said.

“They should never stop doing what they love and makes them happy.”