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The female members of the Capitol Hill press corps earned a year’s worth of bragging rights Wednesday night at the fourth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, beating the female Members of Congress 13-10 in a nail-biter of a game.
Fresh off their painful 5-4 loss from last year, the journalists, who named themselves the Bad News Babes, survived a late-game rally by the Members of Congress, who scored nine of their 10 runs in the last two innings of the game. The press corps now leads the annual series 2-1 in games played.
Roll Call’s own Abby Livingston was named the MVP of the Bad News Babes after stepping up to the mound in the fifth to help end the inning after a series of walks that led to five runs by the Members of Congress.
“We had a big enough lead. I knew it was a big enough lead to walk some people, and I knew not to get frustrated ... but my team backed me up,” Livingston said of the fifth-inning pressure. “[ABC News’] Amy Walter was there to support me, and I just knew if I got that ball into play, we could get them out, and that’s exactly what we did.”
On the Members’ side, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a Senate co-captain, was named the offensive MVP for her pitching skills. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) was named defensive MVP, and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) was named the team’s overall MVP.
In the early innings, the Bad News Babes shined on both offense and defense — a scenario that helped them pull ahead 6-1 by the fourth inning. Many on the press team blamed their loss last year on weak batting. That was not a problem Wednesday night, with much of the team showing the results from their many weekends spent at the batting cages. Still, both teams suffered from bad pitching, with both scoring runs on walks.
Launched in 2009 by Reps. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the game raises money for the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit that aims to support young women battling breast cancer.
Wasserman Schultz, a House co-captain and a breast cancer survivor, said that despite the loss, the game was a success, drawing roughly 900 spectators and raising roughly $50,000 for the YSC.
“I feel so jubilant,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It makes me so proud, and it’s so meaningful to me as a breast cancer survivor, as a young breast cancer survivor, that all these women come out every year and the heart that they put into this game. Of course I want to win, but my teammates played to the bitter end, we are one heck of a tough competitive group, and it’s one heck of an honor to play on this team.”
The game, played at Watkins Recreation Center in Southeast D.C., offers the spectators who come out to watch a rare look at Members of Congress with their hair down — literally — and gives the female members of the press corps the chance to take a few jabs at some of the people they cover on a daily basis.
“This game is really twofold,” said Bad News Babes co-captain Brianna Keilar of CNN. “It’s for a good cause, the Young Survival Coalition, which raises awareness and funds for young survivors of breast cancer. ... But I’ve got to be honest, it’s awesome to be able to compete against Members of Congress. We’re so used to having to cover these newsmakers, and it’s great to be able to get out there on the field, and hey, if there’s a friendly little bump out there on the field, it’s OK, you can do it.”
Aside from the hundreds of Hill staffers and members of the press who came to watch the game, a who’s who of Congress showed up to support their colleagues, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who was also supporting his daughter, Jackie Kucinich, a reporter at USA Today.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, also a breast cancer survivor, served as the announcers of the game, adding color commentary to the tongue-in-cheek event.
Klobuchar declared Pelosi the good luck charm for the Member squad because their bats opened up after she showed up later on in the game. And Mitchell couldn’t resist making puns when she told Members in the crowd to come up to the announcer’s booth to get asked “softball questions.”
Jennifer Merschdorf, CEO of the YSC, said the event went off without a hitch.
“One of the coolest things about this event is that — women from the press corps and women in Congress — everyone is sort of putting all that stuff aside for a night to raise awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer,” Merschdorf said. “I think it’s really cool and I’m really proud of everybody.”