Six Innings with Kelsie Whitmore, the First Female to Play Professional Baseball in The Atlantic League

During Opening Day of the 2022 Atlantic League season, the Staten Island FerryHawks were down 5-3 to the Charleston Dirty Birds in the 9th inning. With a late-inning rally underway, Kelsie Whitmore entered the game for the FerryHawks as a pinch-runner. As she took her spot on first base, fans from both teams erupted into a standing ovation and began chanting her name – Kelsie Whitmore had just made history.

Although the FerryHawks would lose the game, it was a win for Girls with Game® everywhere as Ms. Whitmore became the first woman to play in a professional baseball game associated with Major League Baseball (MLB).

“I did not know I was making history, and, honestly, I don’t think I knew beforehand because that’s not why I play baseball. I am not playing to try and be ‘the first’ or to be a headline, I’m playing because I genuinely love the game.”

It was a historic moment for women in baseball, and one that drew attention to Ms. Whitmore by baseball fans and media outlets. However, Ms. Whitmore’s journey to professional baseball began long before she took that first step onto that field. A native of California, Ms. Whitmore played baseball for the first time with Temecula Valley (Calif.) National Little League, where her love for the game was sparked.

“I remember being the only girl on the field and I remember it not being weird. It became very normal for me to be out there with the boys,” said Ms. Whitmore. “I just loved baseball from the moment I started playing it and I never fell out of love with it. I played multiple sports, but it was the one sport I was drawn towards, and it always felt right to be out on that field. Anything that had to do with baseball was just on my mind all the time.”

Ms. Whitmore pitching in a Little League game

Ms. Whitmore carried her passion for the game into her middle school and high school careers when she played for the varsity baseball team. It also pushed her to not give up on her dreams, even when she started receiving pushback for being the only female on the field.

“It’s funny because, at the same time that people started to make comments about me being a female playing baseball or pushing back against the idea, it was also when I knew I wanted to pursue a collegiate and professional career,” said Ms. Whitmore. “I think because I was so driven at the time, the pushback that I was receiving made me want it even more and really drove me to get to each level after high school.”

Getting to that next level after high school was not easy, but Ms. Whitmore was persistent. With the help of her high school coaches, Ms. Whitmore got accepted into Cal State Fullerton.

“I started the process of looking into colleges at the end of my junior year, which is too late for a lot of athletic programs. The freshmen rosters were filled, and there was no real traction at the time, so I switched gears. I knew I wanted a scholarship, and I knew I wanted to stay in a bat-and-ball sport, so I turned to my baseball coaches for help,” said Ms. Whitmore on landing a roster spot on the Call State Fullerton Softball Team. “Playing softball was definitely different, but my coaches were very supportive.”

Even though she made the transition to softball for her collegiate years, earning a full scholarship on the team, she was never far from the baseball field. Not only did she continue her career on the U.S. Women’s National baseball team – which she has been a rostered member of since 2014 – but Ms. Whitmore also spent her summers playing baseball with the Sonoma California Stompers, a team in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. She and Stacy Piagno, who is also a member of the U.S. Women’s National baseball team, joined the team and became the first female teammates to play on a professional club in more than 60 years.

“I played with the Stompers for two years, which was when I first played at a professional level. When I graduated from college, I just knew that I wanted to continue that journey,” said Ms. Whitmore. “I couldn’t imagine my life without baseball. I couldn’t imagine my career not being baseball. That was the moment when my heart knew I wanted to play professionally, and I was going to do anything I could to get there. So, coming out of college, I reached out to teams, attended trainings, and traveled the world just to get experience and hopefully be seen.”

Ms. Whitmore’s hard work paid off. In 2022, Ms. Whitmore signed with the Staten Island FerryHawks, becoming the first female to sign a contract with an MLB-affiliated league and today, the trailblazing ballplayer spends her days training in the offseason with that same love for the game she had as a Little Leaguer®.

“I don’t think I found baseball; I think baseball found me.”

To learn more about her experience as a female athlete and her ongoing baseball career, Little League sat down for a special Girls with Game 50 (#GWG50) Six-Inning Conversation with Ms. Whitmore:  

First Inning: What do you remember from your years playing Little League Baseball®

It’s funny because when you do look back to that time, you don’t remember the plays you made or the outcome of games, but you do remember the community that you built. A lot of the guys that I grew up playing with in Little League became some of my best friends in high school. So, yeah, when it comes to the memories I have tied to Little League, I just think of community.

Second Inning: Once you knew baseball was the sport for you, was there any piece of advice someone shared with you that kept you driven throughout your journey?

This is not really a piece of advice, but the one thing that really kept me going on my journey was my family. They always supported me playing baseball. I never felt like my dreams were crazy because they never made me feel like they were crazy, especially when I told them that I wanted to take it to the next level and play for a professional team… Even now, my brother is going to come catch for me in the bullpen after working his 9-to-5 job. It really is about the little things like that to encourage me and support me.

Ms. Whitmore with her father in 2008.

Third Inning: You made history as the first female to play professional baseball in the Atlantic League with the Staten Island FerryHawks. What was it like when you made the official roster, knowing you were making history?

After my first start for the team, I went on my phone, and it was just blowing up with the news that I was the first female to do so. Ever since that game, I decided to make the best out of it. I am determined to do this the right way so other women are proud and young females are inspired.

Fourth Inning: You are also on the U.S. Women’s National Baseball team’s roster. What is it like to play with this group of women?

It is always an honor to play with them. After playing for so many years playing on all-male teams, being able to play on a field with all women, who went through the same struggles and have the same goals and desires, that is so special. Then there’s another layer where you are representing your country and that’s something that gives me chills just talking about it because you are playing for something that is bigger than yourself. Plus, tournaments we play in are only every couple of years, so we don’t get to see each other very often, but when we do the energy is there and there is so much gratitude in the air for an opportunity to play the game that we love. There’s nothing better than having U.S.A. written across your chest.

  • Ms. Whitmore played for the U.S. National Women’s Baseball Team for the first time in 2014 when she was 16 years old.
  • The World Baseball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s Baseball World Cup with be played in Thunder Bay, Canada, starting July 28, 2024.
Ms. Whitmore playing with the U.S. Women’s National Baseball Team

Fifth Inning: If you had the opportunity to speak with a young female athlete who is just starting her athletic career, what advice would you give her 

You have to ask yourself what it is that you love, how much do you love it, and are you willing to work for it? There will be failure, difficulties, hardships, and heartbreak, but knowing all that, if you still want it and you persevere, then you will be unstoppable, and your goals will all be possible. Find your community and lean on them. Find the group that appreciates you and supports you not for what you do, but for who you are. It might be hard to understand this now at a young age, but as you get older don’t let yourself get wrapped up in your career, but instead in what is right, what is authentic, and what is true to you. Just be the best version of yourself.

Sixth Inning: As we celebrate the past 50 years of female involvement in Little League, we also look to the future. Where do you see female participation in baseball and sports in general going in the years ahead? 

In general, I see female sports growing and I think it will be the next big thing people will watch. Women are exciting to watch when they are competing, whether it be on the baseball field, basketball court, or soccer field. The energy is there because there’s so much desire to get after it, not only because we love it, but they know they are also fighting an uphill battle. For women in baseball, we are seeing more organizations supporting women with different programs. So, I think if we continue to support each other and get support then it’s only going to grow from here.

gwg50 color spacer

NOTE: The Little League Six Innings Features are a piece of the #GWG50 Celebration in 2024, with interviews of Girls with Game who graduated from Little League programs and continued to make an impact on female sports throughout their careers. To learn more about this initiative, visit The #GWG50 celebration is proudly supported by DICK’S Sporting Goods, a long-time Little League partner that is committed to creating opportunities for girls and women in sports and will be activating around key events and milestones this year.