Bay Area's female baseball players swinging for the fences

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- This is a history-making week for the Bay Area's professional baseball organizations as two female players debut and another woman takes a managerial stint. 
The Pacific Baseball Association is made up of four teams in San Rafael, Sonoma, Vallejo and Pittsburg. 
"I would always want girls to follow what I'm doing, because if they love it, why not?" said Kelsie Whitmore, 17, who played high school baseball in Temecula. 
Now, she's playing for the Sonoma Stompers until she starts college in the fall.  
"I never expected to get a call like this, so it's very exciting," she said.
Kelsie suited up for Wednesday night's game against the San Rafael Pacifics, but won't take the field until the team's Friday night home game.  
Helming the Pacifics is Justine Siegal, who has thrown batting practice to a half dozen Major League squads and is taking over as San Rafael's skipper for two games. 
"I've been training to be a coach since I was 16," said Siegal, who is now 41 years old.  "And this is a wonderful team, very professional."  
The women greeted each other pre-game with a hug. They are among a select few females in the sport: one a trailblazer, the other and up-and-comer. 
Kelsey never detoured to softball as most girls do. 
As the only girl playing among guys, she weathered stares and snickers over the years. 
"The pressure and being looked at that way can be intimidating," she admitted. 
But she's always let hard work and performance speak for her. Her new Sonoma teammates were quickly won over.    
"There were a few jokes and some eye-rolling when I told them she was coming," Stompers General Manager Theo Fightmaster said. "But once she got here they realized this is a ball player."     
Kelsey will take the field Friday alongside a second new female player: Stacy Piagno, 25, who is also a member of the women's national team that won gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games.   
The team message? Baseball can be inclusive without losing its zing.    
"Let's find the best woman baseball players in this country and then give them the opportunity," said Fightmaster, "and of the five or six girls that we scouted, Kelsey and Stacy are the cream of the crop." 
Over her athletic career, Justine Siegal has learned how important visibility is. 
"It's hard to show what you can do when nobody gives you the opportunity, " she said.    
Siegal is a baseball veteran with a PhD in sports psychology. She said she would relish the opportunity to join a coaching roster in the MLB.
But just like young players steered into softball, she said some barriers are hard to overcome.   
"First, there's that tradition where people don't think about it (and) don't ask 'why aren't girls playing baseball?'" Siegal said, "and then second, you have to provide that opportunity." 
Siegal started a non-profit organization 20 years ago called Baseball For All, which encourages more girls in the sport.  
She'll host a tournament in San Francisco from July 23-28 in conjunction with the city's recreation and parks department. She is encouraging interested girls to sign up.     
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