Members of the press team pose after the 2017 Congressional Women's Softball Game. Photo by Dan Cooney

Women’s congressional softball game sets fundraising record

The Congressional Women’s Softball Game set a fundraising record Wednesday night, as female lawmakers and members of the press squared off one week after the shooting at a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game.

The press team beat the bipartisan lawmakers squad 2-1 in the ninth annual charity contest. The game, played before a crowd of roughly 2,000 at the Watkins Recreation Center in Southeast Washington, D.C., is a rare chance for lawmakers from both parties to socialize with each other and the press outside of their regular routines in Congress.

“I can’t really overstate what a great team-building effort it is,” said Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito, R-W.Va. “We ought to do more of it. [And] a lot of the folks that came out to watch the other members, they had fun too.”

Shawna Thomas, the D.C. bureau chief for Vice News, said the game provided members of the press corps with a fun distraction from the daily challenges of reporting in Washington.

“The women who play on the press team are amazing,” Thomas said. “Our jobs are super hard, and we come out here, and we practice, and we do this because it’s for a really great cause.”

The game raised more than $300,000, including ticket and concessions sales, for the Young Survivors Coalition, an organization dedicated to helping young women with breast cancer. The total broke the game’s previous fundraising record of $215,000, set in 2016.

The bipartisan lawmakers’ team was made up of three senators and 11 House members, according to the official roster. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Reps. Martha Roby, R-Ala., Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., served as captains. Moore Capito took home the award for most valuable player on the lawmakers’ team.

The press team had 23 players, including four from PBS NewsHour, and was captained by Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Mikayla Bouchard of the New York Times. Tamara Keith of NPR was named MVP of the press team.

Security was tighter than usual for the game, which took place six days after several people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, were injured in a shooting at practice for the Republicans’ congressional baseball team.

A lone gunman opened fire on the early morning practice at a field in Alexandria, Virginia on June 14. The attacker was wounded in a shootout with Capitol Hill police at the field and later died.

The congressional baseball game went ahead as scheduled the following day at Nationals Park. The game sold nearly 25,000 tickets and raised more than $1.5 million for three charities in the Washington area.

Atalie Ebersole, the president and treasurer of the Congressional Women’s Softball Game, said the group requested additional security measures for this year’s game in May.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Metro Police,” for providing security for the contest, Ebersole said.

Daniel Bush contributed reporting.

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