The pressure is on at 7 p.m. tonight as the women of Capitol Hill do battle at the Congressional Women’s Softball Game at Watkins Field. Tonight’s game, the third annual softball face-off between bipartisan lawmakers from both chambers and women from print and TV media, will benefit the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to young women affected by breast cancer.
Game organizers say they are expecting to raise more than the $50,000 they raised during their inaugural event three years ago at Guy Mason Field in Glover Park.
And Thursday afternoon at the Capitol, players on both sides were already dishing out the trash-talk.
“We’re going to go back-to-back titles, baby!” said Roll Call’s Jessica Brady, one of the 20 members of the media team. At last year’s game, the press team bested the lawmakers for a 13-7 win, as a crowd of Capitol Hill luminaries including then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and then-Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) watched from the bleachers, while Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor cheered on the female lawmakers from the dugout.
The congresswomen are hoping both Sotomayor and her newest colleague, Justice Elena Kagan, will be on hand this time to lend support. Last year Kagan was prepping for the confirmation process and wasn’t able to attend.
Heading into last year’s game, Brady said, the members’ team had underestimated the press team since they’d faced off the previous year against staffers from the Democratic and Republican National Committees, who were a little bit older.
“Now, of course, they’re saying, ‘Oh, I hear the media team’s younger this year,’” Brady said of the members’ team. “Like they’re already trying to couch it. Give me a break, you know?”
The Senate and House members’ team hasn’t won in the three years since the game’s founding; the first game in 2009 ended in a 14-to-8 defeat to the DNC and RNC staffers. But team co-captains Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) said that this year will be different, noting that over the past three months, their team has been meeting at 7 a.m. two or three days a week to practice.
“We’ve had the best turnout we’ve had in three years,” Wasserman Schultz said Thursday afternoon, as she, Emerson and Brady gathered in the Speaker’s Lobby and chatted about the game. That practice has been paying off, she added.
“I am not joking: (Rep.) Susan Davis (D-Calif.) had never, ever played before, and she launched a line drive over the third baseman into left field yesterday in practice,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It was unbelievable.”
Wasserman Schultz said she’d been talking with Emerson about doing something to bring congressional women together and that the impetus came in the spring of 2009, after the Florida Democrat publicly revealed that she was a breast cancer survivor.
“After I shared my breast cancer story, I went to her and I said, ‘You know what, we need to do this. The game we’ve been talking about. Let’s start it this year and let’s do it,’” Wasserman Schultz said.
“It has been for us the best way to build relationships,” Emerson said. “It’s made a huge difference with us.”
Emerson said that in order to join the members’ team this year, lawmakers had to commit to at least seven practices.
“Well, you all are much younger than us,” she explained to Brady.
“Oh, here we go,” Brady responded with a laugh.
The full team rosters are below:
Captain - Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)
Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Captain - Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
Captain -Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI)
Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
Captain - Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH)
Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA)
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)
Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL)
Captain Dana Bash, CNN
Christina Capatides, ABC
Jennifer Bendery, Huffington Post
Jessica Brady, Roll Call
Captain Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico
Leigh Ann Caldwell, C-SPAN
Julie Davis, Bloomberg
Erika Dimmler, CNN
Elise Foley, Huffington Post
Kasie Hunt, Politico
Jill Jackson, CBS
Brianna Keilar, CNN
Stephanie Kotuby, CNN
Jackie Kucinich, USA Today
Lisa Lerer, Bloomberg
Abby Livingston, CNN
Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times
Shawna Thomas, NBC
Captain:Trish Turner, Fox
Amy Walter, ABC
Coaches: Dave Espo, Carl Hulse