California pro baseball team makes history as women take the field

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It’s a feat in baseball that has happened only twice in around 60 years.

The Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association independent baseball league made history Friday when two women suited up for a game against the San Rafael Pacifics.

Kelsie Whitmore, 17, earned the start in left field, while 25-year-old Stacy Piagno took the mound. The last co-ed professional baseball team was fielded in the 1950s, when Toni Stone, Mamie "Peanut" Johnson and Constance Morgan played in the Negro Leagues, according to

"I hope girls watch and realize that they can play baseball if that’s what they want to do. I just want to show them that it’s possible," said Whitmore, who earned a walk in the one at bat she had in two innings of play.

Piagno retired San Rafael’s most feared hitter Jake Taylor twice in her two innings pitched, using her knuckle-curve, slider and fastball, the team’s website said. But she allowed five hits and four runs in the Stompers’ 8-4 loss.

"The magnitude of being a part of this evening has not sunk in for me at all. It feels like just another game but I know that it wasn’t just a routine game," said bench coach Chris Matthews. "One day I will look back on this whole experience and realize how truly cool it was to be a part of this moment."

Both Whitmore and Team USA baseball teammate Piagno signed with the California team last week.

"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," Stompers general manager Theo Fightmaster said.

Neither Whitmore nor Piagno are strangers to baseball, with each having played with Team USA previously — including at last summer's Pan American Games, where they won silver medals.

It was that connection to the "game I've always loved" that helped land Whitmore a spot with the independent team just a few short months after graduating from Temecula Valley (California) High School.

Whitmore, who played baseball exclusively throughout her high school career, had taken part with an organization called Baseball For All when she was young. And it was a member of that group, which aims to provide opportunities for girls to participate in baseball, who first contacted Whitmore to see if she was interested in joining the professional ranks.

After a few scouting trips to watch Whitmore, the Stompers — who last season fielded the sport's first active openly gay player, Sean Conroy — agreed the fit and timing were right.

"Any opportunity like this, of course I wanted to do it," Whitmore said.

Whitmore first played for Team USA as a 16-year-old after having been a part of the team's development program for three years. That while she was still in high school, and after having politely declined chances to play varsity softball instead because of her love for baseball.

"My relationship with baseball is different than anything else," Whitmore said. "It's like my best friend. I hate it some days, but the next day I just love it and am enjoying it. It's competition all the time, and there's so much to learn."

Whitmore will make the switch to softball later this year, having accepted a scholarship to play at Cal State Fullerton. She was offered by the school after having never played the sport, with her only experience coming during a weekend camp following her junior year of high school.

She'll keep playing baseball as well, as she did Friday night — though she'll do so without pay to ensure her NCAA eligibility isn't jeopardized.

"So far, I've tried to earn respect with everyone individually, but they've been great," Whitmore said. "I'm lucky to have a good group of guys to play ball with."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.