Historic Sonoma Stompers game puts women on the field
Scoreless half innings occur in baseball routinely. At many levels, it is more common to have a scoreless inning than one that nets a run. But something was different about the scoreless top of the first at People's Home Equity Ballpark at Arnold Field. Cheers rained down from the packed crowd, and even tears came from the eyes of many people watching the affair.
Stacy Piagno, a 25-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida walked off the mound without allowing a run to come home. She was joined by left fielder Kelsie Whitmore, who made the final out in that half inning, in a truly monumental moment for the game of baseball. The Stompers became the first co-ed professional baseball team since the 1950s.
A female on a baseball field is not something that is a societal norm. Two on the field together at the same time is unheard of at the professional level. That is what occurred Friday in a moment that left many speechless. “The magnitude of being a part of this evening has not sunk in for me at all. It feels like just another game but I know that it wasn't just a routine game. One day I will look back on this whole experience and realize how truly cool it was to be a part of this moment,” said bench coach Chris Matthews.
Matthews truly at a loss for words, and it was evident that this moment did mean a lot to him. It meant a lot to a lot of people as a media frenzy swarmed downtown Sonoma. The one main takeaway from everything that occurred was that this had nothing to do with the media, cameras, or likes on social media. It was about giving two players an opportunity to play that truly deserved the chance to compete like any great ballplayer does.
The result on the field did not go Sonoma's way in an 8-4 loss to the Pacifcs, but there were so many positive things that could be taken from this game. Tonight was a night about breaking barriers and dated social constructs. This team has taken a huge step forward in that regard.
Evidence of this was seen after the game with Piagno in conversation with fellow pitchers Martin Cronin and Eric Mozeika. When the lights turned off and the crowds dispersed, they didn't go their separate ways. Instead, they went over strategy and talked about daily routines in the clubhouse. She had been accepted into the pitching staff as just another player. In the eyes of her teammates she was there to improve her craft, and become a better professional.
Being a professional entitles many things. Whitmore did what any professional hitter is supposed to do in her first at bat in the second inning on her way to a walk. She laid off some junk, and reached base by staying patient. Piagno retired San Rafael's most feared hitter Jake Taylor twice in her outing. Piagno allowed two earned runs on five hits in two innings pitched.
The most impressive showing of professionalism was seen in their class off the field. With media attention and screaming fans surrounding them when their job was done, they handled the entire situation like any ballplayer should. Whitmore seemed to have a permanent smile on her face and handled everything with grace. Piagno took countless pictures with fans after the game, and both players signed autographs.
No matter what is in store for either of these women from here this will be a huge step forward for baseball, and that is the most important thing. It was Whitmore's hope that others like her will also be heard from soon. “I hope girls watch and realize that they can play baseball if that's what they want to do. I just want to show them that it's possible,” said Whitmore.
After the dust had cleared, and the stadium has long since emptied, there seems to be a feeling of contentment in the air. Something truly special happened in this little town in Northern California. The season will go on with many games still to go but nothing will ever take away the magnitude of what happened this evening. The Stompers blazed a trail for others to follow. For the first time America's pastime will not just be a pastime for men but for anyone who feels the desire to be a part of this incredible game.