In a close game dominated by pitching and defense, the congressional women’s softball team prevailed over the press 1-0 in the seventh annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game.
The only run came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., hit a line drive up the middle and scored one at-bat later when Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., drove her in with a single. That was the only run the members scored off of Bad News Babes’ pitcher Jill Agostino of the New York Times, who pitched six stellar innings, but it was all they needed.
The 7th Annual Congressional Women's Softball Game | The Highlight
Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., was the winning team’s most valuable player after making a series of catches key to shutting down the press offense, and ultimately evening up the series at 3 wins apiece for each side.
Temperatures at the Watkins Recreation Center hovered just above 80 degrees as the press got off to a quick start on the turf field. Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report hit a single on the first pitch of the game off of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the members' hurler. Then Agostino singled to move Walter over before Gillibrand settled down and retired the next three batters.
The women of Congress also started strong in the bottom of the first; Gillibrand led off with a single and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz , D-Fla., singled right after, moving Gillibrand to second.
However, Agostino set down the next three hitters to head into the second inning, and from that point on hits were scarce.
In the top of the second, the only hit for the press came when The New York Times’ Carolyn Ryan was hit by a pitch from Gillibrand. In softball, being hit by a pitch, even when a New York senator plunks a prominent New York journalist, one doesn't take a base. But Ryan walked shortly thereafter. However, Shawna Thomas of NBC struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, the Texas Tribune’s Abby Livingston (and former Roll Caller) made two great defensive plays at third base, including a quick throw to first in time to catch Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., for the third out.
After a scoreless third and fourth innings, with Agostino retiring the congresswomen in order both times, the game remained tied at 0. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaking from the announcer's booth, said it was a record for the farthest into the game that neither side had scored.
The press threatened to score in the top of the fifth inning, with a pair of singles from the Old Grey Lady’s Emmarie Huetteman and Ryan, and a walk from Tamara Keith of NPR to load the bases before Thomas grounded out to end the inning with the game still scoreless.
But in the bottom of the fifth, all of that changed. Before Bustos led off with her big hit, she engaged in a bit of banter with the catcher, and when she rounded home on Noem's hit for the game’s first and only run, she said she told the catcher, “I told you it wouldn’t be 0-0.”
Roll Call's very own Editor-in-Chief Christina Bellantoni beat out a bobbled grounder to make it to first base in the top of the sixth inning, but that was all the offense the press could muster in response. The congresswomen threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., lining a single through the hole at shortstop to move Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, to second base.
The top of the seventh inning brought the final chance for the ladies of the press to score, but Walters grounded out to the pitcher. Agostino hit a single to briefly give the Bad News Babes some hope before Livingston hit a deep line drive that was caught by Castor for the game’s final out after just an hour and a half of play.