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CHATTER: Harbord athlete hits the Major League (Summer 2018)

August 12th, 2018 · No Comments

The Harbord Collegiate Institute varsity baseball team will have to make do without its star catcher when it resumes play in the fall.

Tillie Burlock, 15, their starting catcher, who helped lead the team to a Tier 2 championship, has moved on to Silverthorn Collegiate Institute, where she’ll participate in the Toronto District School Board’s elite athletes program. She played for Harbord for two years, and was a starter even in her rookie year in grade nine.

“I could tell right away she has a strong arm, great fielding, great positioning and she just had all the fundamentals down. She was impressive when we got to hitting, she makes good contact and she almost never strikes out. She is a great base runner too,” said Greg Smith, Harbord’s baseball coach.

Her skills and performance earned her a trip to Florida in June to participate in the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) first-ever Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series. One of 65 girls at the camp, she was the only Canadian.

“She has everything it takes to get involved with baseball and nothing will stop her from going as far as she can,” said Smith. “Besides being an amazing baseball player, Tillie is an extraordinary student as well. She can do whatever she wants and she will be good at it.”

Though Burlock’s natural position is second base, she excelled as last season’s catcher. The position switch happened during the final game of the prior season when injuries to the starting and backup catcher meant the position was vacant, until Burlock volunteered, proving to be a revelation.

“That is what Tillie is like, she is the perfect player on the team. She never complains, she shows up for everything, she will do whatever it takes. She never says anything negative about anybody, even calling people out if they are being that way, which is pretty brave for someone in Grade 9,” said Smith. He’s positive that Burlock made the most of the camp, and said he hopes to see female MLB players in the future.

“It is a great idea…. I love baseball and there is no reason why women should not be encouraged to participate. Tillie is an example of what baseball should be. A sport which encourages boys and girls to play. It seems like that is happening late but better late than never.”

—Temi Dada/Gleaner News

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