Eking out a win at this year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game won’t satisfy the Bad News Babes. The squad — composed of D.C.-based female journalists — wants nothing less than to dominate their congressional opponents after a late-game walk led to a one-run loss in last year’s matchup.
“We’re out for revenge,” said Emily Goodin, senior U.S. political reporter for the DailyMail.com and co-captain of the Bad News Babes. “We’re putting the ‘bad’ back in the Bad News Babes, as we say.”
The Bad News Babes, whose roster is full of returning players, will square off against a bicameral team of lawmakers Wednesday night at Watkins Recreation Center on Capitol Hill for the 15th annual game.
Primarily, the event is a fundraiser for the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit for women struggling with early-life breast cancer diagnoses. Before either team has taken the field, it’s raised $571,000, a new record. But the game is also an opportunity to earn bragging rights.
“We always have to pull ourselves back a little bit and remember that it is just a charity game,” said Gretchen Frazee, a senior coordinating broadcast producer at PBS NewsHour and another Bad News Babes co-captain. “We’re ready to win that trophy back.”
The first Congressional Women’s Softball Game was played in 2009, shortly after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat, announced her own breast cancer diagnosis. The game has raised more than $3.1 million for the Young Survival Coalition over the years.
“We focused on softball because that’s a sport that I love and, frankly, that I was good at,” said Wasserman Schultz, who was on her high school’s varsity softball team. “And I figured it was likely a lot of women had played and had the ability to play at a level that would make our game competitive.”
Wasserman Schultz, along with then-Missouri Republican Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Susan Collins, R-Maine., first convened a team of lawmakers to play against a bipartisan team of female campaign staffers. But those staffers tended to skew much younger than the lawmakers, according to Wasserman Schultz. In the interest of parity, a media team was tapped the next year and a (slightly lopsided) rivalry began.
The lawmakers have won just four of the 13 contests (it’s technically the 15th year of the Congressional Women’s Softball Game, but one of those years was canceled because of COVID-19), according to Wasserman Schultz. Before last year’s upset, they hadn’t won since 2015.
Still, both teams appear confident ahead of Wednesday’s matchup.
“I could talk smack about the congresswomen and female senators on the other team to gin up excitement, but I don’t need to because we are going to win,” tweeted Jennifer Bendery, a senior politics reporter at HuffPost and a “Bruiser in the @CWSoftballGame,” according to her Twitter profile.
“Big talk, Bendery! Remind me which team won last year?” responded Gillibrand, whom Goodin called a “sneaky good pitcher.”
“That ball seems to float and just drop in front of you. You’ve got to be ready,” Goodin said.
For the last several months, both teams have met regularly for early morning practices. The Bad News Babes boast a veteran lineup, while the congressional team has eight rookies, which adds an element of surprise to this year’s contest.
“It does require a little more practice,” Wasserman Schultz said. “But we have a lot of fantastic, highly skilled softball players in the new members that are playing on our team, on both sides of the aisle. And we’ve gelled as a team.”
The rookies on the congressional team this year are Reps. Becca Balint, D-Vt., Nikki Budzinski, D-Ill., Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore., Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, Jen Kiggans, R-Va., Mary Peltola, D-Ala., Brittany Pettersen, D-Colo., and Hillary Scholten, D-Mich.
But the new blood won’t elicit any sympathy from the veteran media squad.
“We don’t take anything for granted, but we don’t think these rookies know what they’re getting into,” Frazee said. “We’re glad they’ve signed up and are participating, but we’re not going to take it easy on them because it’s their first year. We’re going to go at them hard.”
Tickets to the game are $10.