Six Innings with Olivia Pichardo, the First NCAA Division I Baseball Girl with Game

When Olivia Pichardo stepped onto her first Little League Baseball® field at six years old, she went out there to have fun, but little did she know that she would grow up to become the first female to play on an NCAA Division I baseball team. She didn’t anticipate that she would one day lace up her cleats and put on a USA Baseball uniform to play with a full team of women at international tournaments. But, from the moment she could throw a ball, Ms. Pichardo did know that baseball was the sport for her. 

Ms. Pichardo played her first Little League® game in the Coach Pitch Division of Forest Hills Little League in Queens, New York. She didn’t get to play Tee Ball, which she jokingly blames her father for after he missed the registration deadline, however, she credits her father for something much more important to her athletic career – the love of the game.  

“My dad was a coach on every single one of my Little League teams and helped me develop that initial love for the game, and that’s what I think Little League is all about,” said Ms. Pichardo. “You’re not going to become a superstar or an elite athlete at five years old, or even at 12 years old. So, during those formative years, it is about establishing that initial love for the game and having it be something you get to look forward to at the end of the school day.”  

On her Coach Pitch team, two other girls played alongside Ms. Pichardo. However, as she moved up through the divisions, she found herself to be the only female on her teams. For some, this might have been intimidating, but for Ms. Pichardo, it built her self-confidence.  

“When you’re that young, you don’t necessarily pay attention to the difference in gender, other than the fact that I did know there were not many other girls playing baseball, which kind of fed my ego a little bit. Plus, I never really got any pushback from my teammates at that young age,” said Ms. Pichardo. “Parents and coaches would approach my parents and ask when I would make the switch to softball, assuming that I would because I was a female, but I never wanted to leave baseball.”  

Following her Little League career, Ms. Pichardo continued to play the game she loved, starting with club baseball before joining the USA Baseball Women’s National Team in 2022 where she would go on to play in her first international women’s baseball tournament in a friendship series with Canada.  

After graduation, Ms. Pichardo moved to Providence, Rhode Island, to attend Brown University. Looking to prioritize her academics, she applied to the university through the regular admission process but immediately contacted the baseball team’s head coach once she was admitted, letting him know she would be trying out in the fall of her freshman year.  After a few weeks of tryouts, Ms. Pichardo earned a spot on the team as a utility player and became the first female to be on a NCAA Division I baseball roster. In March 2023, she became the first female to play in a NCAA Division I baseball game when she made her debut as a pinch hitter against Bryant University. 

To learn more about her experience as a female athlete and her ongoing baseball career, Little League sat down for a special Girls with Game 50 (#GWG50) Six-Inning Conversation with Ms. Pichardo:  

First Inning: Growing up, what was some of the best advice you received?  

“I can’t remember a specific thing that anyone has told me that has really stuck with me through the years. In its own way, the fact that parents and coaches assumed I was going to switch to softball, and knowing I never planned to do that, was something that kept me motivated. Other than that, I think through the different coaches and teams I played on, which taught me that to be successful you need to have a positive attitude, be a good teammate, and be a coachable player.”  

Second Inning: Reflecting on your experience as a young female athlete playing Little League Baseball, what would you tell young females who are just starting their baseball career now? 

“When I was younger, I had a little bit of a temper problem, and I stressed out a lot. So, if I could give any piece of advice, it would be to not stress out and to just have fun. If you strike out or make an error on the field, just move on, and learn from the moment. Baseball can be a frustrating sport, so try and stay within yourself, control your emotions, and have a good attitude. It is great to have confidence in yourself and have expectations, but also remember to give yourself a break and have fun.”  

Third Inning: Once you finished playing Little League, what was it like moving up to the next level in your baseball career?  

“In middle school, I received a little pushback and was teased for being a female playing baseball. It was the first time that I think I became a little self-conscious as a female in a predominantly male sport, but this is also the time I discovered there were other girls outside of my town playing baseball. I watched Mo’ne Davis in the Little League Baseball World Series, which was a huge inspiration for me, especially because she was a female of color playing. I think it’s a lot easier to keep playing when you have female counterparts to look to for motivation. When I went back to my own Little League to be an umpire for the younger divisions, I noticed that there was at least one girl on multiple baseball teams and one of the teams even had four girls. It shocked me to see that at first since it was unheard of when I was younger, but I am happy to see that they have that.” 

Fourth Inning: What was it like to intern for the New York Mets in 2022 and experience what it is like to be behind the scenes rather than on the field?  

“When the internship was assigned as part of my high school senior project, I turned to Elizabeth Benn to hopefully make some connections at the organization. In addition to her, Kim Ng and Veronica Alvarez are two women on the baseball operations side of things that I am inspired by. So, after meeting with people in the organization, I chose to intern for the amateur scouting department where I was given a bunch of different projects that gave me insight into how it all worked behind the scenes. There really is so much work that goes into making these decisions and analyzing information for the scouts. I am not sure what my future career looks like, but it was very interesting to learn about and be a part of for even a small amount of time.”  

Fifth Inning: What is it like playing for USA Baseball on an all-female baseball team? 

“Having female baseball players around me is definitely something that keeps me going, especially when I get to play for the women’s national team. I love playing with that group of women. We just played in the qualifiers last year for the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup, which is happening for the first time in a long time this summer. It is something I am really looking forward to that I don’t think a lot of people know about, but they should.”  

  • The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s Baseball World Cup will be played in Thunder Bay, Canada, starting July 28, 2024. The roster for the 2024 team has not yet been announced.  

Sixth Inning: What was it like when you officially made the Brown University baseball roster, knowing you were making history as the first female to be on an NCAA Division I team?

“I knew going into the tryouts that if I did make the team, I would be the first female to do so in the NCAA, so I felt a sense of pressure going into the tryouts knowing I would have that title and get media attention for it. I just wanted to be a good representative of females. But now that I am on the team, I am over that pressure and instead, I just focus on being the best teammate I can be and make my coaches proud.”  

  • Florida International University softball player Ashton Lansdell also played Division I baseball for the National Junior College Athletic Association for Georgia Highlands College. Ms. Pichardo, who now plays with Ms. Lansdell on the USA Baseball Women’s National Team, credits Ms. Lansdell for being an inspiring force that pushed her into one day wanting to play collegiate baseball.  

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NOTE: The Little League Six Innings Features are a piece of the #GWG50 Celebration in 2024, with interviews of Girls with Game who graduated from Little League programs and continued to make an impact on female sports throughout their careers. To learn more about this initiative, visit The #GWG50 celebration is proudly supported by DICK’S Sporting Goods, a long-time Little League partner that is committed to creating opportunities for girls and women in sports and will be activating around key events and milestones this year.