Tim Livingston, Assistant GM, Baseball Operations & Media
Anna Kimbrell had always wanted to play professional baseball. At the age of 15, the U.S. Women's National Team had their sights set on Kimbrell, calling her the best female baseball catcher in the country. After joining the team for the Women's World Cup in 2008, she has become a stalwart for the squad, playing for her country and earning five medals in international play.
That same dream was shared by Kelsie Whitmore and Stacy Piagno, who joined the Sonoma Stompers officially on July 1 as part of the venture by the Stompers and their premier partner, Virginia Dare Winery. It was Virginia Dare owner Francis Ford Coppola who wanted to give women the opportunity to play professionally in a way that could advance the game forward.
Three weeks to the day after Piagno started on the hill and Whitmore started in left field, Kimbrell joined Whitmore to form the first all-female battery in men's pro baseball history, making them the first female duo to do it since the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
"A League Of Their Own?" Perhaps. They definitely seemed like they were on their own island, working together in the middle of a buzzing stadium that had seen many travel from miles around to see a bit of history at People's Home Equity Ballpark. They had done it plenty of times before as members of the USWNT, as Whitmore pitched during the 2015 Pan-Am Games with Kimbrell behind the plate.
Kimbrell was also on the other end of history with Piagno during those Pan-Am Games, having caught her no-hitter against Puerto Rico, the first in USWNT history. Piagno wasn't starting on Friday night, but she made her presence felt in the late innings as a replacement at second base. And in the ninth, she fought off a pitch inside just past the pitcher's mound with some english on it, beating out an infield single for her first professional base hit.
2016 has become a season of firsts for the Stompers. They were first half champions. They were the first men's professional team to give women a chance to play in a co-ed environment for over 60 years. Whitmore had her first hit Wednesday. Piagno her first strikeout last Saturday and her first hit tonight. Kimbrell completed the other half of the first all-female battery.
Now they can move forward knowing that they have created a situation in baseball unlike any other. Women have a chance to play; a chance to compete. On Saturday morning, when the Stompers hold a tryout to evaluate talent that could help them down the stretch in what will be a competitive second half in the Pacific Association, women will be a part of the group being evaluated.
That right there is progress.