Two female players will make history Friday night in California when they take the field for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, marking the first time in more than a half century that women will play in a professional baseball game. Kelsie Whitmore, a 17-year-old outfielder and pitcher, and 25-year-old pitcher and infielder Stacy Piagno will make their baseball dreams come true — and become the first women to play pro ball since a trio of ladies played for an old Negro League team back in the 1950s. The team made the historic signing earlier this week.
According to a post on the Stompers Twitter feed, Whitmore will be starting in left field and Piagno will get the nod as the team’s starting pitcher. ESPN reports Piagno keeps hitters off-balance with a fastball, slider, and a knuckle-curveball. The two each have impressive baseball resumes with Team USA women’s baseball. Whitmore, who just graduated from high school, helped lead the U.S. women’s team to a gold medal in the Pan Am Games last summer. And Piagno was instrumental on the mound in that gold medal run, tossing a no-hitter for Team USA. Both are slated to play for Team USA again in the Women’s Baseball World Cup in South Korea coming up in September.
In a press release announcing the acquisitions, the team, which is owned by legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, Theo Fightmaster, the general manager, said, “While many believe it’s only a matter of time before we see a woman playing in the MLB, I’ve learned over the past several months that there are many steps in between where we are and where we should be in terms of women in this sport. We hope this sends a message to the rest of the baseball world that there is room for women and girls in this game — from Little League to the Major Leagues.” Also in the statement, Coppola said he’s always wondered why there are no co-ed teams in professional baseball, and that making co-ed baseball a reality was a priority.
Read the full story at NBC News.