Which is not to say toppling the defending-champ pols will be a cakewalk.
Following a tough scrimmage on June 21 (“We got crushed,” volunteered one BNB player.), Livingston told HOH the press team has matured significantly. “When this game began several years ago, a majority of both teams had never played softball before. Every player on the press team is now at a point where she connects the dots,” the Washington bureau chief for the Texas Tribune said.
Lady lawmakers have faced off against female reporters five times for the contest that helps raise money and awareness for the Young Survival Coalition ’s anti-cancer crusade. The first contest, held in 2009, pitted members of Congress against staffers. Hacks still hold an overall lead in the ongoing series (3-2), though members logged a 10-5 victory last summer.
This year, it’s a whole new ballgame.
Some new recruits, Reps. Mia Love, R-Utah; Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y.; and Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., remain X factors, for now.
“The one I'm most intrigued with is Love,” Livingston said, recalling their first run-in roughly a year ago on CQ Roll Call’s home turf. “Love was there for an interview with our political team, and I stopped by to say 'hello' on my way in from one of our morning practices. I was still in a ball cap, T-shirt and wind shorts. She spied the cleats hanging out of my bag and was completely curious.”
And then there are the seasoned vets.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
“The junior senator from New York is always a concern,” Livingston said of the squash enthusiast. “She's a small person, but she is able to hit the ball farther than anyone because she's mastered how to torque her hips into a monster hit.”
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.
Livingston remains wary of the Illinois Democrat. “She and Rep. Joyce Beatty, rival Congressman [Cedric L.] Richmond as the most naturally gifted athletes in Congress,” Livingston said.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
The West Virginia Republican is, per Livingston’s evaluation, a major obstacle.
“Bustos plays shortstop, and with Shelley Moore Capito at third base, trying to hit through that side of the field is a fool's errand,” the political hack counseled, noting Capito "adds stability to their defense and agility to the hot corner.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
“The player I least want to see in the clutch is Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” Livingston said of the Democratic National Committee chairwoman. “She always seems to be the one up to bat at the bottom of the seventh and with two outs and pulls out these uncatchable shots over second base to keep her team alive.”
Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.
The Sunshine State also has apparently gifted Congress with defensive weapons.
“Rep. Kathy Castor is kind of the quietly competent player in short field,” Livingston asserted.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
Per Livingston, the Florida Republican has proven to be a worthy adversary both on and off the field.
“Every time I see her at the Capitol, no matter the time of year, she has some one-liner about softball ready for me,” she said, citing a “congratulatory” tweet Ros-Lehtinen posted in which she hailed Livingston’s career advancement as an opportunity to continue battling on the diamond.