Luther: Kelsie Whitmore, Justine Siegal, and the U.S. women’s baseball team

From Jessica Luther at Excelle Sports on August 30, 2016, with mention of SABR member Justine Siegal:

If you didn’t know that the U.S. has a women’s national baseball team, join the club. Plenty of people in this country don’t even know that women play baseball; softball, it’s believed, is the equivalent sport for women. But enough women play that last week, the team held tryouts. On Thursday, they announced the 20-player roster for the upcoming Women’s Baseball World Cup in South Korea, which will take place from September 3-11. You probably didn’t know about that, either. But maybe all of that’s about to change.

Last on the alphabetical roster for the U.S. team is 18-year-old Kelsie Whitmore, an outfielder and pitcher. Whitmore, along with pitcher Stacy Piagno, made news earlier this year when she signed to play with the Sonoma Stompers, a professional team that is part of an independent league, the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. Whitmore and Piagno were subsequently joined by Anna Kimbrell, a catcher, and together the three created the first female battery in pro baseball history. Piagno and Kimbrell will also be going to South Korea with the national team.


Whitmore has often been the only woman on the team she plays on, which is normal for any girl who wants to play baseball once their age hits double digits. Justine Siegal, the first woman to ever coach on an MLB team, told me that 100,000 girls play youth baseball in the US but only 1,200 play in high school. In the 2015-2016 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, 488,815 boys played high school baseball, compared to 1,290 girls. When I asked Siegal what happens between youth baseball and high school, she says, “That’s when the discrimination occurs.” Part of it is that “a lot of girls are told that they need to switch to play softball.” Some just leave the sport. For those who soldier on, they join teams where they are the only girl, which will remain true for many through most of their career. That can be very difficult. “Some quit altogether,” Siegal says, “because they don’t they don’t feel welcome on their baseball teams.”

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Originally published: August 30, 2016. Last Updated: August 30, 2016.