Tag Archives: Women in Sports

Piagno Makes History, Pacific Association Finishes First Half

Last year, Indy Ball Island reported on history being made in the Pacific Association.

The Sonoma Stompers signed two female players, Kelsie Whitmore and Stacy Piagno, last July.

The Stompers’ GM, Theo Fightmaster, assured everyone that it was not just a publicity stunt that would last a few days.

And he definitely proved that by having the women play again this year… giving them a chance to get professional experience playing against men.

That experience paid off as Stacy Piagno made history again on Saturday, July 15th, when she became only the third woman to earn a win in men’s professional baseball since the 1950’s.

stacy piagno.jpg
Stacy Piagno delivers a pitch at Peoples Home Equity Ballpark at Arnold Field during her seven-inning, four-hit performance in the Sonoma Stompers 16-1 victory over the Pittsburg Diamonds on Saturday. (James W. Toy III / Sonoma Stompers)

In her third appearance and first start of the season, Piagno pitched seven strong innings allowing one earned run on four hits while recording four strikeouts. She retired her last 11 batters and 20 of 22 from the 2nd to the 7th inning.

“This was a great night for Stacy and a fantastic night for baseball,” said Stompers president and general manager Theo Fightmaster. “This was a start she’s been preparing for, and she validated the opportunity she was given. That was an incredible performance against a very tough lineup.”

The 7 IP and 4 K were both a career high for Piagno as well.

“It’s always a thought in your mind, especially in our situation coming in here as a female, can I really be successful? Can I go deep in the game? I’m not just out here for a hoax. It proves to myself that yes, all the hard work can pay off and yes, I can be successful out here,” Piagno said. 

Whitmore also started the game in left field and recorded her first hit of the 2017 season.

Their manager and teammates are proud of them as well.

“From last year, (Whitmore) was really working to get better and asking to pick everybody’s brain,” said manager Takashi Miyoshi. “She’s a great student of the game… The USA has an incredible baseball culture, but not to women in baseball yet. Like I said to the two girls, they’re going to be the icons of the game,” Miyoshi said. “Coming here, pitching against guys who were in affiliated ball, playing pro ball like three years ago, it’s not easy, trust me… I’m just really proud of her.”

The women certainly feel the love and respect as well.

“This team is my family, in and out. That’s something that I even thought of before the game. These guys are my family, they have my back,” Piagno said.

The Pacific Association wrapped up their first half of the season on Sunday.  Here are the final standings from the first half:

Sonoma Stompers 28-11
Pittsburg Diamonds 21-18
San Rafael Pacifics 17-22
Vallejo Admirals 12-27

The Stompers, who clinched last Wednesday, also set a franchise record for wins (28) in the first half.

The second half of the season begins tonight when the San Rafael Pacifics travel to take on the Sonoma Stompers and the Vallejo Admirals play host to the Pittsburg Diamonds.


Normal Cornbelters Hire Justine Siegal

The Normal Cornbelters have made history by hiring the first female coach in the Frontier League. Justine Siegal has taken a permanent coaching position with the Cornbelters as they make a run for the playoffs.

(Photo Credit: Lori Ann Cook-Neisler, The Pantagraph)

Siegal, founder of Baseball For All – a nonprofit organization that works towards meaningful opportunities, instruction and gender equality in youth baseball, has been making history in professional baseball for the last 7 years.

In 2009, she became the first female coach of a men’s professional baseball team when she coached first base for the Brockton Rox, who were then a part of the Can-Am league.

Siegal was also the first woman to ever throw batting practice to an MLB team when she threw to the Cleveland Indians in 2011 during spring training. In addition to the Indians, she has thrown BP to the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and New York Mets.

In 2015, she made even more history as the first female to coach for a major league team when the Oakland A’s hired her to coach during their fall instructional league.

Siegal is more than qualified for the job on paper as well. She holds a B.A. from St. Olaf College with a concentration in “Leadership: Religion, Military, and Baseball” –  a major that she designed herself, an M.A. in Sport Studies from Kent State University, and a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Springfield College.

Manager Brooks Carey told the Pantagraph that they haven’t given her a set role with the team for the remainder of the season:

“I’m not going to invent a role for her to play. The next couple days we’ll let her get her feet on the ground and let the guys get to know her.,” Carey said. “She will be just another coach. I hope that happens as quickly as possible, and I have a really good feeling that it will.”

Yesterday (Aug 14), she tweeted that she coached first base while “following the team’s rhythm. Seeing where I can help. Learning as fast as I can.”

She was also given the game ball by first baseman Aaron Dudley to mark her first win as a member of the coaching staff.

first win
(Photo credit: Twitter)

In 2015, Siegal told ESPN W what her coaching means for women in baseball:

Someone said, “To be it, you have to see it.” And now girls can grow up seeing that this is possible, to be a coach, whether that’s local, college and maybe professional. I think the significance is being able to see what you can be. I consider it a huge honor to be a role model to girls in baseball. I love this game.

She is definitely giving girls someone to look up to in the baseball world.