Borders would like to forget her history-making debut

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — History will remember this night. Ila Borders would rather just forget it.
Borders became the first woman to pitch in a regular-season game Saturday night when she came in during the sixth inning of the St. Paul Saints’ Northern League game against the Sioux Falls Canaries.
But she struggled from the outset, facing three batters and giving up three earned runs without getting an out. The Canaries went on to win 11-1.
“That’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life,” Borders said as she grimly signed autographs for about 30 minutes after the game. “I don’t think you’re ever going to bounce back from that. It’s always going to be with you.”
A left-hander, Borders received a loud standing ovation from the crowd of 3,335 at Sioux Falls Stadium when she relieved Saints starter George Glinatsis with two outs in the sixth. The Canaries led 4-0 and had a runner at third.
Borders hit the first batter she faced, lefty Paul Cruz, with a first-pitch curveball. She then went to a 2-2 count on righty Michael Dumas before she was called for a balk on a pitch Dumas grounded weakly to shortstop. The balk forced in the runner from third and gave Dumas another chance.
He lined the full-count pitch back at Borders. She knocked it down but threw wildly to first for an error that allowed Cruz to score for a 6-0 Sioux Falls lead.
John Tsoukalas followed with an RBI double to right-center on a 2-1 pitch to make it 7-0.
“I think we were both a little nervous,” Tsoukalas said. “I know she had to be really nervous. … Nobody wants to get out by her, so I think that’s going to make it even tougher for her.”
Tsoukalas’ hit brought manager Marty Scott from the dugout. The fans booed Scott as he took the ball from Borders, but they cheered her as she ran to the dugout to finish her historic — and disappointing — performance.
“I did awful; it’s as plain as that,” she said.
At 22 — the youngest player on the independent Saints roster — Borders admitted she was jittery, but she didn’t use that as an excuse.
“That was the most nervous thing I’ve gone through in my entire life,” she said. “And I failed.”
Borders made the team last week after a two-week tryout. She was used mostly as a starter during her four-year college career but made the Saints as a reliever whose job is to get out a left-handed hitter or two in the late innings.
She didn’t get in Friday night’s season opener, but she stumbled at her defined role Saturday; two of the three hitters she faced were lefties. The line for her Borders’ debut: three earned runs on two hits and her throwing error. Because she didn’t get an out, her first professional ERA is infinity.
Former major league pitcher Steve Howe, suspended seven times for drug-policy violations, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Sioux Falls. After the game, he offered Borders some encouragement.
“I remember how I felt as a rookie in the Houston Astrodome. I couldn’t even spit, so you have to show her some respect,” Howe said. “I just told her, ‘Hey, been there, done that.'”
As he has done throughout Borders’ time with the Saints, Scott didn’t try to disguise his feelings about her performance. Another outing like that could cost Borders her job.
“She’ll be given another chance; I think we owe her that,” Scott said. “But she was told that she made the club by the skin of her teeth, based on her work ethic, based on other rookies in camp who didn’t perform up to our expectations. But now it’s up to her to pitch well to stay. I think her performance spoke for itself tonight.”