April 23, 2024

In many parts of Latin America, baseball is a popular and well-established sport with men’s professional leagues in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, among others. But women wanting to play baseball’s cousin — softball — professionally had only one option: to leave. They had to go to the United States or Japan.

Until now.

In what is believed to be a first in Latin America — a region where men often have more opportunities than women, particularly in sports — a professional women’s softball league has started in Mexico. On Jan. 25, when the inaugural season began, 120 women on six teams got to call themselves professional softball players, many for the first time.

“Before, there wasn’t even a question of, ‘Should there be a professional sport for women?’ It was a given that it didn’t exist. Period,” said Stefania Aradillas, an outfielder for the Diablos Rojos Femenil of Mexico City. “But we’re finding our place in society, not just in sports, but in all areas.”

The women’s softball venture was created by the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol, the country’s nearly 100-year-old professional men’s baseball league. The regular season lasts until March 3, followed by playoffs ending in mid-March.

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