Ila Jane Borders
- Bats Left Throws Left
- Height 5'10", Weight 150 lb.
- School Southern California College
- High School Whittier Christian High School
Ila Borders was the one of the first female players to appear in a professional minor league baseball game, as well as the first woman to pitch in a men's college baseball game.
On February 15, 1994, Borders became the first woman to pitch in a NCAA or NAIA game. She appeared for Southern California College, five-hitting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a 12-1 victory. In her senior year, she went 4-5 with a 5.22 ERA in 51 innings.
In 1997, Borders signed with the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League. On May 31, she made here professional debut, facing three Sioux Falls Canaries batters, and gave up three earned runs. Three weeks later, on June 18, she was traded to the Duluth-Superior Dukes. Ila had no decisions and a 7.53 ERA in 15 appearances that year, allowing 24 hits in 14 innings, striking out 11 and walking nine.
In 1998, Borders made history again by becoming the first female pitcher in history to start a minor league baseball game and later in the season the first to record a win. On July 9, she went five innings against the Canaries surrendering five hits and three runs, while walking two and striking two as well. The Dukes lost the game 8 to 3 with Borders receiving the loss. Borders won her first game on July 24, facing the Canaries once again, with a 3-1 victory. She went six innings giving up three hits, walking two and striking out two. Overall, she was 1-4 with a 8.66 ERA, allowing 65 hits and 14 walks in 44 IP while striking out 14. It should be noted that the league was a high-scoring one and 7 of Duluth-Superior's 16 pitchers had ERAs over 8.
In 1999, Borders had her best year, posting a 3.63 ERA. She had a 30.86 ERA in three outings for Duluth-Superior then had a 1.67 ERA and a 1-0 record in 15 games for the Madison Black Wolf. Overall, she allowed 43 hits and 14 walks in 35 innings, striking out nine. Had she pitched enough innings (69 were needed), she would have ranked 8th in the Northern League in ERA. In 2000, Borders moved on to the Western Baseball League, where she played for the Zion Pioneerzz and had a 8.31 ERA in five games, allowing 17 hits and two walks in 8 IP while striking out two. After that season, she retired from baseball. Over her minor league career, she was 2-4 with a 6.73 ERA.
Borders has been elected to the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals for her unique contributions to the game of baseball.
Sources include 1998-2001 Baseball Almanac
- Jean Hastings Ardell: "Ila Borders, Pitcher", The National Pastime, SABR, Number 20 (2000), pp. 10-15.
- Ila Jane Borders and Jean Hastings Ardell: Making My Pitch: A Woman's Baseball Odyssey, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2017. ISBN 978-0-8032-8530-9
- Michelle R. Martinelli: "For women playing baseball, acceptance grows as they attack 'cultural myth'", USA Today Sports, August 9, 2016.