Last year, the contest got away from Congress’ rookie-heavy softball squad, but this time will be different, players say.
As the annual game approaches on Sept. 14, lawmakers want redemption. “We’ve been working hard during early mornings,” said Rep. Kat Cammack.
The Florida Republican was on the field in 2021 when her team saw a 1-1 tie slip away in the seventh inning. The team's opponents, a squad of Washington-based journalists who go by the name Bad News Babes, got a four-run rally and cruised to the win.
Now in its 13th year, the Congressional Women’s Softball Game pits lawmakers against journalists to raise money for the Young Survival Coalition, a breast cancer charity. This year it also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law that revolutionized sports for women as it barred sex-based discrimination in schools.
The first pitch will be thrown out by Barbara Franklin, one of the first women to graduate from Harvard’s business school. She also helped lead an effort to recruit more women into high-level government jobs during the administration of President Richard Nixon, who signed Title IX into law.
The 2021 game raised a record-setting sum of nearly $510,000. The event raises money primarily through sponsorships, which are available through Sept. 1. Tickets go for $10 and can be purchased in advance or at the gate on game night, held at Watkins Recreation Center in Southeast Washington.
Both teams have been practicing for months. For team Congress, the squad is back together again, according to rosters shared with CQ Roll Call on Wednesday.
No rookies will play this year, after the team saw eight new members in 2021, including Cammack and her fellow millennial freshman Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif.
The House members are joined by a longtime bipartisan duo from the upper chamber: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. They haven’t missed a game since the first year in 2009. Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor whose story helped inspire the event, were on that first team too.
It will be the last year for coach and retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who described “the camaraderie and the fun” of the softball game as one of the things he’s enjoyed most during his time in Congress.
The Bad News Babes, meanwhile, have two newbies in Katie Lobosco of CNN and Mica Soellner of The Washington Times.
The event used to be held in June, but after the pandemic forced a cancellation in 2020 and a delay in 2021, organizers kept the later start date.
Though Cammack said she’s ready for team Congress to get a “W,” the event is about more than balls and strikes. She’s playing in honor of recent breast cancer survivor and Florida’s first lady Casey DeSantis.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to support her and thousands of other women like her battling this disease,” she said. “No matter who wins, I’m proud to support this great cause.”
The players this year are:
- Rep. Nanette Barragán, D-Calif.
- Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Okla.*
- Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.
- Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla.
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.*
- Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.
- Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn.
- Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kan.
- Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, D-N.M.
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.*
- Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich.
- Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash.
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.*
- Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo.
- Tori Barnes
- Natalie Buchanan Joyce
- Jim Kiley
Press Team (aka Bad News Babes)
- Laura Barron-Lopez, PBS NewsHour
- Jen Bendery, HuffPost
- Mikayla Bouchard, CNN
- Bridget Bowman, NBC News
- Carrie Budoff Brown, NBC News
- Leigh Ann Caldwell, The Washington Post
- Lisa Desjardins, PBS NewsHour
- Gretchen Frazee, PBS NewsHour*
- Emily Goodin, DailyMail.com*
- Erica Hendry, PBS NewsHour
- Emmarie Huetteman, KHN
- Kasie Hunt, CNN
- Tamara Keith, NPR
- Katie Lobosco, CNN**
- Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times
- Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report
- Mica Soellner, The Washington Times**
- Sarah Wire, Los Angeles Times
- David Espo, Associated Press (retired)
- Carl Hulse, The New York Times
- Frank Thorp, NBC News