In a historic development, two female baseball players will debut with the Sonoma Stompers on Friday, the independent league team announced on Wednesday.Kelsie Whitmore, 17, and Stacy Piagno, 25, will be in the starting lineup for the Stompers on Friday when the team hosts the San Rafael Pacifics.The Stompers will
In a historic development, two female baseball players will debut with the Sonoma Stompers on Friday, the independent league team announced on Wednesday.
Kelsie Whitmore, 17, and Stacy Piagno, 25, will be in the starting lineup for the Stompers on Friday when the team hosts the San Rafael Pacifics.
The Stompers will become the first co-ed professional baseball team since the 1950s, when Toni Stone, Mamie "Peanut" Johnson and Constance Morgan became the first women to play alongside men in the Negro Leagues, according to the club. The Stompers are part of the independent Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Whitmore and Piagno are also scheduled to play for Team USA in the Women's Baseball World Cup in South Korea this September.
Whitmore, from Temecula, Calif., pitches and plays outfield. She recently graduated from Temecula Valley High School and earned a scholarship to play softball at Cal State Fullerton next season.
Piagno, from St. Augustine, Fla., pitches and plays infield. She won a gold medal and tossed a no-hitter for Team USA at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. Piagno played softball at the University of Tampa.
Virginia Dare Winery partnered with the Stompers "in an effort to promote the recruitment, development and advancement of women in baseball," according to a statement released by the club. "The Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola owns the winery.
"My family would play co-ed baseball games, and inevitably the star player would always be an aunt who could run and hit and that made the games so much more fun," Coppola said in a statement released by the Stompers. "When watching Major League Baseball, I always wondered why there couldn't be a co-ed team. It's the one major sport in which weight and strength come less into play. So when my Sonoma winery became involved with the Stompers, I had the opportunity to turn this thought into a reality and recruit these amazing women capable of playing alongside men."
Last year, the Stompers made international headlines when pitcher Sean Conroy became the first ever openly gay player to appear in a professional baseball game.
"The Stompers share the passion and vision of Francis Ford Coppola, and are dedicated to the advancement of women in baseball," said Theo Fightmaster, vice president and general manager of the Stompers, in a statement. "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."
**Austin Laymance** is a reporter for MLB.com.