QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) — Whether Queens native Olivia Pichardo realizes it or not, she’s now a trailblazer in baseball. Pichardo, a walk-on at Brown University, is the first woman to make an NCAA Division I roster.
“That wasn’t my goal or purpose for making this team,” Pichardo told PIX11 News from her dormitory in Rhode Island. “I just knew I wanted to play college baseball no matter what division it was at.”
Pichardo made the Brown roster as a freshman. If she didn’t make it this year, she was committed to trying out every year until she landed a spot on the team.
That persistent approach was instilled in her at an early age in Forest Hills. As a lifelong Mets fan, Pichardo has been playing baseball, not softball, since she was five. She’s listed as a utility player on the Bears roster, but where she shines best is on the mound.
When PIX11 News first interviewed Pichardo in May 2019, she mentioned that softball is a great sport, but she’s focused on playing baseball.
Three years later, Pichardo’s milestone accomplishment is inspiring thousands.
“PIX11 was actually the first news station to interview me when I was 14, I think. This is kind of a full circle moment for me,” Pichardo explained. “There’s definitely adversity. That’s inevitable. I’ve always grinded and worked hard at everything I do and put my all into everything. It’s kind of in my character.”
Pichardo is used to being an outlier in baseball, but the 18-year-old knows she’s not the only female leaving a footprint in a sport that once wasn’t accessible to women.
In 2018, she participated in MLB’s Breakthrough series introducing young girls to national teams and college recruitment programs. Pichardo also played for the women’s national team this past summer.
All those experiences have helped Pichardo on this road less traveled. Brown’s first baseball game is on Feb. 24. Until then, Pichardo plans to hit a homer on her final exams.
“I’m not thinking too much about the far future right now, ” Pichardo said about her future goals in baseball. “I’m just trying to present in the moment, especially with finals coming up here at Brown.”