Coaching next generation of left-handed players in Beaverton

Coaching next generation of left-handed players in Beaverton

History-making pitcher helps out at Southridge HS

The baseball diamond in Beaverton is where Ila Borders is looking to bring along the next generation of ball players with her unique take as a left-handed coach.

“I am just trying to take my experiences that I learned, good and bad, and pass those along and help the sport grow,” said Borders, a training captain with Clackamas Fire.

Borders is seeding the future with coachable and receptive kids like Southridge High School freshman baseball player Katrina Janowski.

“It’s really helpful because all of my coaches have been righties and they teach me stuff right-handed and it’s weird,” said Janowski.

The exclusive lefty club meets when they can.

“I think when we first worked together, she was trying to develop a curve ball, so I showed her how I threw my curveball and she kind of just picked it up really fast,” said Borders. “I was like, ‘oh, we’re kind of similar,’ she’s going to be way taller than me! But at that time, I was like, ‘oh, tall, lanky, lefty.’”

Borders made headlines three decades ago as the first woman to earn a men’s baseball scholarship and earn a win at what is now Division II Vanguard University.

“Sounds like her experience with her players is awesome,” said Borders. “When I was going through it, it was a pretty rough, tough time, especially in college so I think things are changing and I’m super excited to see that.”

Both Borders and Janowski are control-style pitchers.

“She is kind of similar to me in we throw similar pitches so I can do it too if she did it,” said Janowski.

That she did, Borders played independent pro ball in Saint Paul and Duluth. She was on Leno and 60 Minutes. And that fire still burns inside the 49-year-old training captain with Clackamas Fire.

“Graduating high school in ‘93, college in ‘98, playing pro ball but the thing about it is, it’s fun. It’s still fun to where, you know, if it’s raining, I’m in my garage taking hacks, I’m throwing the baseball,” said Borders. “It’s an awesome game to get out there and learn teamwork and work and have a good time.”

15-year-old Janowski has been having a good time with America’s pastime.

“I just decided I wanted to play baseball and I’ve stuck with it,” Janowski said.

The International School of Beaverton student stands five foot eight and a half on the hill with the best whip [walks plus hits per inning pitched] on the freshman skywalks.

Teaming up with many of her Little League buddies as she was the first girl to compete for the Majors All Stars from Murray Hill.

“I’ve played with almost all of them before, so they just know I’m around,” said Janowski.

Janowski was around when she attended MLB Trailblazers camp in Florida as Borders worked in the development program for Major League Baseball.

“It’s all about development, going and being a training captain is about developing people and coaching is always about developing people and seeing it grow and so Katrina being the only female out here that I get to work with, I really want to see her grow and get to college if she wants to or at least with the women’s national team and follow her passion,” said Borders.

It is a full summer of sports on tap for Janowski with baseball, basketball, and soccer before she begins her sophomore year with the Southridge Skyhawks.

 

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