The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

“Pretty Cool, Pretty Special”: Jillian Albayati Makes History


On April 7, 2024, CSUSM witnessed history being made. The Cougars were deep into game three hosting Sonoma State as Jillian Albayati took to the mound at the top of the ninth. For Albayati, it was just another game. She had been playing baseball her whole life.  

For those in attendance, the number 42 pitcher made history as the first woman to play baseball for CSUSM. However, this wasn’t her only game of the day. In fact, Albayati had just been celebrating her softball team’s 4-3 win over Cal State Monterrey Bay moments before rushing down to pitch. 

Because of this, Albayati added to the record as the first NCAA Division II athlete to play in both a softball and baseball game on the same day. Her celebration was cut short as she hustled back to the softball field to play her third game of the day that ended in another win to close out the series. 

Albayati began playing baseball at three years old. She got her first taste of record setting during her senior year, when she became the first woman to play in a CIF Championship baseball game. She also started playing travel softball during her junior year, catching the eye of CSUSM softball coach, Stef Ewing, who later recruited her to play for CSUSM. 

The journey to the pitching on April 7 began several days before after injuries to the Cougars’ pitching roster prompted CSUSM baseball coach, Jose Garcia, to reach out to Coach Stef for backup. Coach Stef recommended Albayati and offered her the chance to pitch for the team the coming weekend. 

“…Coach Stef came up to me and asked me if I wanted to pitch for them. And I thought it was just for practice, but she was like, ‘no like in a game.’ I was like yeah ok; I’m not going to pass up that opportunity,” Albayati said. 

While the original plan was for Albayati to pitch following softball’s second game the following Sunday, Albayati was called up after the first game to pitch her historic inning. Friends, family, and teammates cheered from the stands as history was being made right in front of them. 

“It was awesome. I mean right away I had all the support. Running down to the baseball field you had my whole softball team running behind me to go watch the game…getting on the mound, you could just hear all the people screaming for me…It was such a surreal moment just hearing everybody, knowing I had everybody’s support,” Albayati said. 

As the second game ended, it became apparent that her performance may have been a bigger deal than she thought. Almost instantly, media coverage began breaking and spreading the story of the day’s historic events.  

“I was getting interviewed right away after our second game for softball. I was like ok, I did do something pretty cool, pretty special. So, I think that’s when it really started to hit me,” Albayati said. 

As a sophomore, Albayati still has a couple more seasons in her collegiate career, yet her aspirations extend beyond it.  

“Hopefully after I’m done with school I can go pro somewhere with baseball. If not, I’m definitely looking into coaching or working with the MLB (Major League Baseball) in some way,” Albayati said. 

The upcoming 2024 Women’s Baseball World Cup poses another playing opportunity Albayati hopes to take advantage of. She represented team USA in 2022 and 2023 and is hoping to make the roster and win gold at the tournament later this year. 

There has been a noticeable rise of women in baseball, with players like Albayati being strong cases for it. Like anyone else, these players train hard to perform highly in the sport they love. Albayati is positive that the future is bright for young girls aspiring to greatness. 

“Women in baseball, it’s been growing for years. You know since I was twelve years old it’s continued to progress. I can’t say where it’ll be in a few years but it’s going to be even bigger than what it is now…talk about having no days off, grinding through it all no matter what. I think is like a really big part you know, putting in that extra work, believing in yourself that you can do it…Even if you don’t get the opportunity right away, it’s going to come if you continue to put in the work and show that you’re capable of doing it,” Albayati said.  

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, both CSUSM baseball and softball teams find themselves with strong records in the final weeks of the regular season. While Albayati’s future seasons pitching for Cougar baseball are unclear, she will continue to be on call for the rest of the season if the need arises. 

CSUSM softball will be hosting the 2024 CCAA tournament for the first time, where six teams will arrive to compete on May 1 through May 4. Albayati looks forward to a deep run in the post-season and attributes the team’s success to their bonding and improved chemistry throughout this season. 

“We’ve had so many new people come in you know we’ve had a lot of seniors leave, and a lot of players leave last year. We were struggling to find that team dynamic, but I think we’ve really put things together and it really showed this weekend,” Albayati said. 

In any case, the next few weeks will be an exciting few as this moment of celebration and accomplishment has added to the excitement that comes with collegiate post-seasons. We look forward to a successful campaign and wish our Cougars the best of luck in these final days.  

Go Cougars! 

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *