Heard on the Hill

Beat the Press: Lawmakers Look to Break Media Team’s Softball Streak

‘We get to get a little physical and we get to do something really good’ in charity game

The media team celebrates after its 2-1 victory over female lawmakers at the Congressional Women’s Softball Game last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After months of strong female voices challenging male-dominated institutions, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand is eager to direct that fervor onto the softball field.

“I think there’s a lot of energy on our team right now and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for women and women’s voices,” the New York Democrat said at practice for the Congressional Women’s Softball Game last week.

Wednesday’s game is the 10th edition of the annual tradition, and will once again feature female members of Congress going up against the women of the Washington media corps. The Bad News Babes, as the press team is known, are the two-time reigning champs.

Gillibrand, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri started the game in 2009 after Wasserman Schultz revealed she had beaten back breast cancer. The game raises money for the Young Survival Coalition, which supports young women with breast cancer.

Watch: Members of Congressional Softball Team Talk About the Cancer Survivors They're Honoring

 

Wasserman Schultz is hoping for a better outcome for her team this year.

“Every day we get better. We have to sort of re-gel as a team. We have the same starting infield and a new addition in [Iowa Sen.] Joni Ernst. It’s really exciting,” she said at practice last week.

The Bad News Babes lead the series, 5-3. Lawmakers faced off against campaign staffers in the inaugural game and have played the media team since 2010.

More than 2,000 tickets to the game had already been sold by Monday, raising over $300,000 for the Young Survival Coalition. Over its 10 years, the game has raised $1.4 million for the organization.

Before the softball game’s creation, a few female lawmakers played in the Congressional Baseball Game as there was no alternative. Two congresswomen — California Democrat Nanette Barragán and Utah Republican Mia Love — are playing in both games this year.

“We get to get a little physical and we get to do something really good,” Love said, when asked why she plays. 

Watch: A Little Early Morning Congressional Softball Trash Talk

Two congresswomen are playing their final game: Longtime staple Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida (who was among the first women to play in the Congressional Baseball Game) is retiring, while Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for New Mexico governor. 

There are three senators on the members’ team: Gillibrand, Ernst, who is making her debut this year, and West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

“By this practice, we look invincible. I think we’re going to be really strong and we’re going to do a lot of praying at the same time,” Capito said last week.

[Ernst Only New Face on Congressional Softball Game Roster]

Rep. Cheri Bustos was similarly confident at the practice.

“I think we’ll win. I think it will probably be a shutout and I think we’re like really amazing athletes out here,” she deadpanned, before adding with a laugh, “Bit of embellishment there.” 

The game takes place at Watkins Recreation Center (420 12th St. SE) at 7 p.m., and tickets start at $10

Members’ team

Coaches

  • Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado
  • Tori Barnes
  • Natalie Buchanan Joyce
  • Jim Kiley

Media team

  • Jennifer Bendery, HuffPost
  • Bridget Bowman, Roll Call
  • Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC News
  • Lisa Desjardins, PBS NewsHour
  • Elise Foley, HuffPost
  • Emily Goodin, DailyMail.com
  • Erica R. Hendry, PBS NewsHour
  • Emmarie Huetteman, Kaiser Health News
  • Kasie Hunt, NBC News
  • Tamara Keith, NPR
  • Pamela Kirkland, PBS NewsHour
  • Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune
  • Leigh Munsil, CNN
  • Alicia Parlapiano, The New York Times
  • Julie Percha, PBS NewsHour
  • Lynn Sweet, The Chicago Sun-Times
  • Shawna Thomas, Vice News
  • Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report
  • Sarah D. Wire, The Los Angeles Times

Captains emeritus

  • Dana Bash, CNN
  • Mikayla Bouchard, The New York Times
  • Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico
  • Brianna Keilar, CNN

Coaches

  • David Espo, Associated Press (retired)
  • Frank Thorp, NBC News
  • Carl Hulse, The New York Times

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