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Independent league baseball team signs two female players

Thanks to the Sonoma Stompers, Kelsie Whitmore and Stacy Piagno are one step closer to getting a woman into The Show.

Whitmore and Piagno, two female baseball players who helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at last year's Pan Am Games, signed a deal with the Stompers, an independent league baseball team based in Sonoma, California, that plays in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. The players will debut on Friday.

Whitmore, 17, is an outfielder/pitcher who will play left field, while the 25-year-old Piagno, who went 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in a team-high 15 2/3 innings at the Pan Am Games, will use her fastball, knuckle-curve and slider on the mound.

"While many believe it's only a matter of time before we see a woman playing in the MLB, I've learned over the past several months that there are many steps in between where we are and where we should be in terms of women in this sport," Stompers VP and GM Theo Fightmaster said in a news release. "We hope this sends a message to the rest of the baseball world that there is room for women and girls in this game -- from Little League to the Major Leagues."

The Stompers made history last year when Sean Conroy, baseball's first active professional player who came out as gay, played in a game last June -- and threw a shutout. Sonoma will become the first coed professional team since the 1950s, when three women played in the Negro Leagues.

Whitmore, who will attend Cal State Fullerton on a softball scholarship in the fall, and Piagno will suit up for Team USA in September in the Women's Baseball World Cup in South Korea. But they're not the only Team USA players to make noise this season. Teammate Sarah Hudek earned her first college baseball win in February.

Back in April, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he believes there will soon be a female baseball player in the majors.

Perhaps this is just the start for Whitmore and Piagno.