Olivia Pichardo ’26 has become the first ever woman named to an NCAA Division I varsity baseball roster after walking onto the University’s team, the University announced Monday.
The decision was revealed to Pichardo and an applauding group of teammates at a meeting held Oct. 4.
"I thought it was just a typical hitters and pitchers meeting," Pichardo said in a Brown Athletics press release. “All of a sudden, (Head Coach Grant Achilles) made the transition to announcing to everyone that I made the spring roster. That definitely took me by surprise, and everyone was super happy about it.”
“It was a surreal moment for me because it's something I've wanted since eighth grade,” she said in a University press release. “It's kind of crazy to know that I'm living out my dream right now and the ideal college experience that I've always wanted.”
Pichardo, who began playing Little League in kindergarten and was playing varsity high school baseball by seventh grade, according to the University press release, has amassed a long list of accolades in recent years.
In June 2019, she was offered a spot in the Major League Baseball Breakthrough Series, a program established for developing and showcasing young players, according to MLB.com. In July 2021, she participated in the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series National Combine. And this past summer, she was a member of the USA Baseball Women’s National Team, playing as both a pitcher and outfielder in a series against Team Canada in Thunder Bay, Ontario, according to the Brown Athletics press release.
A Queens native, she also interned in the New York Mets amateur scouting department, according to the press releases.
“Each year, I would be told that the game I love would leave me behind,” Pichardo wrote on her personal website. “I just kept playing and working harder.”
Trying out this fall as an outfielder, middle infielder and pitcher, Pichardo impressed Achilles during practices and workouts.
"Every fall, we hold tryouts for students interested in joining our team," Achilles said in Brown’s press release. "It’s a workout common for baseball and allows us to evaluate athleticism and arm strength, as well as both offensive and defensive skills. Olivia put together the most complete walk-on tryout I have seen from a player since becoming a head coach.”
According to Baseball for All, a nonprofit organization focused on gender equity in the sport, Pichardo is the first woman to be on the roster of a Division I baseball program. Eighteen women over the years have been members of a collegiate baseball roster with eight of them projected to be active this upcoming season, according to the group, but none have been in Division I.
"It’s really cool that we're having more and more female baseball players at the collegiate level, and no matter what division it is, it's just really good to see this progression," Pichardo said in a video released by Brown. "It's really paving the way for other girls in the next generation to also have these goals that they want to achieve and dream big and know that they can do it."
Pichardo and the Bears will open up their season on the road against Georgia State University Feb. 24 and will play their first home game at Murray Stadium March 18.