Ila Borders is a former left-handed pitcher in college and an independent professional baseball player. As a female pitcher in men’s leagues, Borders achieved numerous baseball milestones at college and professional levels, including being the first woman to win a men’s professional baseball game. In four seasons from 1997 to 2000, she pitched over 100 innings in professional baseball and posted a record of 2–4 and a 6.75 earned run average while recording 36 strikeouts.
Borders was the first female pitcher to start a men’s NCAA or NAIA college baseball game, playing for Southern California College in the 1994–1996 seasons and Whittier College in the 1997 season. She was also the first woman to receive a baseball scholarship to play men’s collegiate baseball and the first woman to earn a win in men’s collegiate baseball. Ila was also the first woman to play for The Canadian Collegiate Premier Wooden Bat League for the Swift Current Indians in the summer of 1995.
In 1997 she signed with the St Paul Saints of the independent Northern League, playing in her first regular season game on 31 May 1997. A month into the regular season, she was traded to the Duluth–Superior Dukes.
After her retirement in 2000, Ila went on to coach baseball and worked in a fire department. She was a firefighter and emergency medical technician before becoming a firefighter-paramedic. In 2017 her biography ‘Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey’ was published, which she wrote with Jean Ardell. Ila is elected to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals for her unique contributions to the game of baseball in 2003. Ila’s collegiate and professional baseball gear is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.