More likely than not, for girls who grew up with a glove on one hand, sliding to makeshift bases and picking at knee-scabs, at some point there was a shift. It went something like this: around the time you started liking boys, you stopped playing ball side-by-side with them. They put the awkwardly hefty softball in your hand where a whiffle or hard ball used to be, and you became a softball player. The women of the Eastern Women’s Baseball Conference (EWBC) however, along with women across the country, are finding their niche playing the great American pasttime.
This weekend, the EWBC hosts the Baltimore-Washington Diamond Classic Women’s Baseball Tournament. The tournament will showcase the best in women’s amateur baseball on the eastern seaboard and beyond, in what EWBC hopes will be a springboard for future growth and success.
“The tournament itself is looking really good, it’s by far the strongest field and the tournament team is a more committed team. We have some real good baseball players,” said Jennifer Hammond who plays for the Virginia Flames in the regular season as well as the metro-area tournament team the DC Thunder. The Thunder is feeling confident, having spent some time on the road together. They hope to see themselves in the championship game against the favored New England Red Sox.
Though many of the DC Thunder are skilled on the diamond, they are, as Hammond noted, “overachievers.” Hammond shared the biography of team captain Carmen Dominguez, a 46-year-old breast cancer survivor, Team USA member and National Women’s Baseball Hall of Famer. In the regular season Dominguez also plays with the Virginia Flames and in her first season with the team, she batted .484.
The women who make up the EWBC run the gamut in both their ages and backgrounds. The players range from teenagers to women deep in their forties, from scholars and lawyers to teachers and members of the military. They may have played baseball or softball in their youth, or not. Their commonality now, however, is a love of a sport that finally suits them.
The tournament games begin at 9 a.m. this Saturday, with each team facing off in round-robin fashion over the course of the weekend. The top two teams will meet in the Championship match-up on Monday morning at 10 a.m. As the entire weekend of games (13 games, 6 at Bachman Complex and 6 at Cannon Stadium, both outside of Baltimore. See Map) is one-hundred-percent free, it is far-and-away the best sports fix for your money this weekend. Make it your memorial day civic sports duty.
Also on hand this weekend will be Jennifer Ring, University of Nevada Professor of Political Science and author of the book “Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball.” In her book, Ring examines and challenges the forces that have kept women away from the sport, historically enjoyed by people of all races and genders. While promoting her book, Ring will also be watching her daughter play for the Red Sox. (What I didn’t know is that her daughter is in fact Lilly Jacobson, the reason I became interested in women’s baseball when she played for my college’s baseball team last year. Small world moments.)
Area female-athletes need not simply watch from the sidelines — the EWBC wants you! The league has an open door to players of all skill levels, just shoot them an e-mail or call 1-877-GET-EWBC.
Photos thanks to Jennifer Hammond and the EWBC.