The Girls Of Summer
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By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 27, 2007; Page M01
THUMP. “Steee- rike.”
” C’mon,” growls Mimi Evenson, stepping back from the plate, knocking the tip of the bat on her cleats.
A look at some players in the Eastern Women’s Baseball Conference.
There are two teams based in Northern Virginia (the Virginia Fury and the Virginia Flames), two in Montgomery County (the Maryland Boxers and the Montgomery County BarnCats) and two in the Baltimore area (the Baltimore Blues and the Hawks).
The cost to play varies among the teams, each of which must pay $2,000 to cover the conference’s not-for-profit operating costs (booking fields, paying umpires, buying baseballs). Teams split the expense among their players, and some subsidize the cost with sponsorships.
The championship is Monday at 9 a.m. at Joe Cannon.
Regular play continues through September. In addition to Bachman and Joe Cannon, games are usually played at Blake High School (300 Norwood Rd., Silver Spring), Marshall High School (7731 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church) and Ridge Road Recreational Park in Germantown (21155 Frederick Rd.).
Matchups for the next two weeks:
For directions and the full season schedule, visit www.ewbc.us.
Bottom of the first on opening day at Joe Cannon Stadium in Hanover. No score. The count is 2-2. Two outs.
Evenson, 39, steps back to the plate. Her two kids, ages 4 and 6, sit in the dugout, crunching on the ice from their plastic McDonald’s cups.
Carmen Dominguez uncoils on the pitcher’s mound. THUMP.
“Hee-yarr!” bellows the umpire, jerking his arms like he’s starting a lawn mower. It’s a strikeout. Dominguez trots off the field with the rest of the Virginia Flames.
“[Expletive] pitch — sorry, kids,” Evenson says as she returns to the Baltimore Blues’ dugout, cleats crunching on the ground, gold nail polish glinting in the sun of an infant summer. “Was low and outside.”
Dismayed by the Nationals? No allegiance to the Orioles? Consider the Eastern Women’s Baseball Conference. Six local teams to root, root, root for. Overhand fast pitch. Hardball, not softball. Major League Baseball rules. They play through September, with an invitational tournament this weekend.
Games are free, so come on down. They could use some fans. Or, better yet, players. Join midseason if you want.
“It’s been hard because most people don’t know we exist,” says JoAnn Milliken, president of the conference, which is 90 women strong and in its 18th year, making it the oldest women’s baseball league operating in the country. It’s a nonprofit, so there’s no money for marketing. Newspapers don’t cover them or print their scores. Coaches and players say they’re perpetually trying to assure people that women play baseball.
Yes, baseball. Yes, with a hardball. Yes, with ornate profanity and dirt-smeared jerseys and tampons up noses to staunch the blood after a wild throw. (“Works great,” says Blues catcher Jo Ann Kruger, 31, “but that’s something you will not see in men’s baseball.”)
Top of the second. Government contractor Donna Middleton, 36, and counselor Gina Whitacre, 43, (who bought her first glove at age 9 with money made from mowing lawns) race home as their fellow Flames shout “Nice wheels, nice wheels!” between pulls of Gatorade. CLACK. George Washington University master’s student Jen Hammond, 26, zings a ball to right field and then steals second base. Soon after, Milliken hits a double to drive Hammond home, stretching the score to 3-0 before the Blues get that third out.
Veteran umpire Roger Loos peels off his mask as the teams exchange places on the field. “They asked me to do one of the playoff games three or four years ago,” he says. “I said, ‘I never did a women’s game before.’ And they said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s good ball.’ And it was fantastic.”