Record number attend Congressional Women's Softball Game after shooting
© Will Costello

The Congressional Women’s Softball Game, a yearly tradition pitting a bipartisan team of women in Congress against members of the press, went 2-1 on Wednesday in favor of the media’s team, the Bad News Babes, in a game that went down to the final pitch. 

Last week's shooting at a congressional men’s baseball practice that left five injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), remained a major focus during the game.

Crystal Griner, a police officer who was injured in the shooting and remains in a wheelchair, threw the first pitch at Wednesday's game. A moment of silence was observed for Scalise, who was upgraded to “fair” condition earlier in the day but remains in the hospital.

Reaction to the shooting was also evident in the enhanced security presence at the game, as spectators had their bags checked and police roamed the stadium at Watkins Elementary School, where the game was played. 

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The event, which raises money for the breast cancer organization Young Survivor Coalition, had a record-breaking turnout, as did the men’s baseball game, following the shooting.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) has played in every Congressional Women’s Softball Game since its inception in 2009 and plans to play her last game next year ahead of her retirement.

“I’ve seen this team grow and become such a strong team because of the camaraderie, because of our shared goal of gathering money for a good cause,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Debbie’s been our role model for that, and we’ve just been her willing subjects, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Ros-Lehtinen was referring to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 41 and who helped bring the game into existence almost 10 years ago. 

“I’m a young survivor myself,” Wasserman-Schultz said after the game. “After I shared my experience publicly, I kept it quiet for the whole year that I went through breast cancer, and my former colleague Jo Ann Emerson and I, the Republican from Missouri, said, ‘You know what, we need to bring the women together, fight for a cause we all believe in.’ And let’s do it in a bipartisan way, against the common enemy, the press,” she said.

Tamara Keith, a reporter from NPR, won her team’s Most Valuable Player award after a strong showing. She said winning the game was “incredible,” but felt especially happy to receive the MVP award.

“I have won three trophies in my life,” Keith said. “The one every kid gets, one for writing and this,” she said as she held up her award, in the shape of a miniature softball glove.

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Dems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Republican senators skeptical of using national emergency for wall funding MORE (R-W.Va.) won the congressional team’s MVP award.

A variety of notable Washingtonians were spectators at Wednesday’s game, including Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump once asked Paul Ryan why he couldn’t be ‘loyal': book AEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump.

Throughout the game, the fans in the stands cheered and waved signs with slogans like “Run, Pitch, Win Like a Girl.” One sign that said “I heart IRL” was waved vigorously whenever Ros-Lehtinen stepped up to bat.