Girls From Across The United States And Canada To Play In The Inaugural 'Trailblazer Series' Baseball Tournament
MLB & USA Baseball Launch Unprecedented Event to Celebrate Girls Baseball In Conjunction with League-wide Commemoration of Jackie Robinson Day
Major League Baseball and USA Baseball today announced the launch of the inaugural 'Trailblazer Series,' a first-of-its-kind girls baseball tournament hosted in conjunction with Jackie Robinson Day. Approximately 100 girls, ages 16 and under, representing twenty states across the country as well as Washington D.C. and Canada, will participate in the three-day tournament held in the greater Los Angeles-area from Thursday, April 13th through Saturday, April 15th.
The girls playing in the Trailblazer Series will be divided into two age divisions, 16U & 12U, and have been placed onto teams by random selection. They will be coached by some of the nation's top female baseball coaches and players, including those from USA Baseball's Women's National Team. Additional activities for Trailblazer Series participants will include non-game instruction from the coaches, appearances by special guests connected to baseball, and attending Jackie Robinson Day celebrations at Dodger Stadium on April 15th. The entire event is completely expense-free for participants.
In recognition of the legacy of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), the teams will be named for notable alumnae from the all-women's league that lasted from 1943 through 1954. The teams, as well as the individual alumna each is named after, will be as follows:
Team Green (Dottie Green)
Team Winter (Joanne Winter)
Team Dancer (Faye Dancer)
Team Sams (Doris "Sammye" Sams)
Team Kamenshek (Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek)
Team Paire (Pepper Paire)
Team Burkovich (Shirley Burkovich)
Team Blair (Maybelle Blair)
Trailblazer Series coaches feature some of the top names of coaches and players in women's baseball. The coaches, who are broken down by their Trailblazer Series teams, are as follows:
Veronica Alvarez (Miami, Fla.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2015 Pan American Games)
Justine Siegal (Los Angeles, Calif.) - Founder of the all-girls "Baseball For All" youth baseball organization.
Codi Dudley (Alexandria, Va.) - Coach, DC Thunder Women's Baseball Team of the Eastern Women's Baseball Conference
Jenna Marston (Lexington, Ky.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2015 Pan American Games)
Donna Mills (Boston, Mass.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2004 & 2006 Women's Baseball World Cup)
Stacy Piagno (St. Augustine, Fla.) - P/1B/2B for the Independent League's Sonoma Stompers; Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2015 Pan American Games)
Tamara Holmes (Oakland, Calif.) - USA Baseball Sportswoman of the Year; Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2006 Women's Baseball World Cup; Gold Medal Winners, 2015 Pan American Games)
Marti Sementelli (Boston, Mass.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2015 Pan American Games)
Ila Borders (Portland, Ore.) - Firefighter, Cornelius Fire Department (Cornelius, OR); former collegiate and independent professional baseball player; first woman pitcher to start a men's NCAA or NAIA college baseball game; first woman to receive a baseball scholarship to play men's college baseball; first women to earn a win in men's college baseball;
Anna Kimbrell (Birmingham, Ala.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2015 Pan American Games)
A.J. Hamilton (Statesboro, Ga.) - Member of the 2016 USA Baseball Women's National Team; former catcher, Georgia Southern University Softball
Malaika Underwood (Atlanta, Ga.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2006 Women's Baseball World Cup; Gold Medal Winners, 2015 Pan American Games)
Meggie Meidlinger (Atlanta, Ga.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2006 Women's Baseball World Cup)
Bridget Venturi Veenema (Chicago, Ill.) - Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2004 & 2006 Women's Baseball World Cup)
Alex Oglesby (San Francisco, Calif.) - Coach, Baseball For All; Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2004 Women's Baseball World Cup)
Robin Wallace (Boston, Mass.) - Scout, MLB Scouting Bureau; Member of the USA Baseball Women's National Team (Gold Medal Winners, 2004 Women's Baseball World Cup)
Several notable attendees will participate in the Trailblazer Series, including alumnae from the AAGPBL. Shirley "Hustle" Burkovich, who played from 1949 to 1951, and Maybelle "Mae" Blair, who played in 1948, will throw out first pitches during the event. Additionally, Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie Robinson and MLB Educational Programming Consultant), Jennie Finch (Olympic Gold Medalist; MLB Youth Softball Ambassador), Kim Ng (Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations, MLB), Billy Bean (Former Major Leaguer; Vice President & Special Assistant to the Commissioner, MLB), Renée Tirado (Vice President, Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion, MLB) and Ashley Bratcher (Senior Director, Baseball Operations, USA Baseball), all will attend various components of the event.
In addition to the weekend's celebration of women in baseball, USA Baseball's National Member Organizations, which sanction leagues across the country and around the world, reaffirmed their commitment to providing girls opportunities to participate in their baseball leagues. Leaders at AABC, American Legion, Babe Ruth League, Dixie Boys and Majors, Dixie Youth, Little League International, NABF, NFHS, PONY, USSSA and MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program are all working toward growing the opportunities afforded to girls in the game.
"In memory of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball is committed to making our sport accessible and inclusive for all those who want to play, coach or participate," said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. "MLB and USA Baseball have listened to the growing demand for girls' and women's baseball by launching this unprecedented event. We will be proud to do so on the most meaningful date on our calendar, Jackie Robinson Day, at our Youth Academy in Compton. It is our honor to support trailblazing young women who will be outstanding representatives of their communities."
"The establishment of the Trailblazer Series marks an exciting next chapter in the history of women's baseball," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director and CEO of USA Baseball. "We're proud to partner with Major League Baseball on yet another impactful amateur initiative, one that aligns with and supports our Women's National Team programming which has represented our country in the Women's World Cup since its inaugural event in 2004."
The Trailblazer Series is the latest joint effort between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, which centralize around sports development, player health and educational resources. The most notable shared initiatives include the 'PLAY BALL' initiative, Pitch Smart and Amateur Development Camps (e.g., Breakthrough Series, DREAM Series and Elite Development Invitational). More information on the Trailblazer Series can be found at MLB.com/trailblazerseries.