Originally Published: KPIX 5 - CBS
The Sonoma Stompers will become the first co-ed independent Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Club team when two women are in the starting lineup Friday.
Outfielder/pitcher Kelsie Whitmore, 17, from Temecula, and pitcher/infielder Stacy Piagno, 25, of St. Augustine, Florida will take the field at 6 p.m. against the San Rafael Pacifics at Peoples Home Equity Ballpark at Arnold Field near the Plaza in Sonoma.
Tickets for the historic game and others are on sale at StompersBaseball.com. The team is 14-10 so far this season.
It will be only the third time since the 1950s that women play on a professional baseball team in the U.S. Southern California native Ila Borders pitched for minor league clubs between 1997 and 2000. Pitcher Eri Yoshida played minor league ball for the Chico Outlaws in 2010 and has also played professionally in Japan.
Before that, Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and Constance Morgan played alongside men in the Negro Leagues in the 1950s.
Whitmore recently graduated from Temecula Valley High School and will attend Cal State Fullerton on a softball scholarship next season.
Piagno threw a no-hitter for the United States team that captured a gold medal in the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada and played at the University of Tampa.
In 2015, the Stompers made news when pitcher Sean Conroy became the first openly gay player to play at the professional level.
Former Major League pitcher with the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos Bill “Spaceman” Lee became the oldest player to win a professional baseball game as a Sonoma Stomper.
Two players from the Pacific Association were signed to Major League teams. Jayce Ray, of Sonoma, was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2015 and Santos Saldivar also of Sonoma, was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers before the 2016 season.
The Stompers’ primary sponsor, Francis Ford Coppola’s Virginia Dare Winery in Geyserville is partnering team over the next three years.
In a news release, Coppola said he always wondered why there was no co-ed team in Major League baseball where weight and strength come less into play.
“So when my 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,” Coppola said in a news release about Friday’s historic game.
Theo Fightmaster, Vice President and General Manager of the Stompers said, “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,” Fightmaster said.