OAKLAND – In a historic moment for women in professional baseball, Oakland Ballers right-hander Kelsie Whitmore made history on Thursday, June 6, by becoming the first female to start a Pioneer League game. Whitmore’s debut saw her throw three innings against the Yolo High Wheelers, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk. She struck out one—the first batter of the game—setting the tone for her trailblazing performance.

Whitmore, a native of Temecula and former Golden Bear baseball player, got the groundbreaking start after she already made history as the first female to appear in a Pioneer League game. Her start followed three relief appearances on the Ballers’ road trip against Glacier Falls and Rocky Mountain, where she faced some challenges, allowing 11 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. Despite these setbacks, her perseverance and skill secured her a starting position. The Ballers, as a team, had a tough road trip with a 9.55 ERA, but Whitmore’s presence was a shining beacon of progress and possibility.

Temecula resident, Kelsie Whitmore, throws a pitch for the USA Baseball Women’s National Team. Valley News/USA Baseball photo

Kelsie has long been a pioneer for women in professional baseball. Not only is she a staple on the USA Baseball Women’s National Team, in 2022, she became the first woman to sign a contract with the Atlantic League, playing two seasons for the Staten Island FerryHawks. Her talent and determination led her to the Oakland Ballers after an open tryout in April.

The Ballers, making their franchise debut this season, have already set a precedent by being one of the first Pioneer League teams to play in California. Their home debut in Oakland drew a sellout crowd of 4,200 fans at the newly remodeled Raimondi Park in West Oakland, signaling strong community support and interest.

Formed in 1939, the Pioneer League was part of Minor League Baseball until 2021, when it transitioned into an independent MLB Partner League. This shift opened new opportunities for players like Whitmore to make their mark in professional baseball.

Off the field, Whitmore continues to break barriers and inspire through her “BE YOU” apparel brand. Inspired by her experiences as a female athlete in a male-dominated sport, the brand encourages individuals to be the best versions of themselves both on and off the field. Whitmore’s mission is clear: to inspire others to rise to their own abilities through strength and perseverance, rather than conforming to others’ expectations.

While she continues to break barriers and inspire females in the sport of baseball, Temecula’s Kelsie Whitmore has also just released her “BE YOU” apparel brand. Valley News/Website courtesy photo

As she mentions on her website, “I always tried being someone different. Comparing myself to others, wanting to be someone I wasn’t, allowing others to identify who I should be, and eventually losing who I was in the process,” Kelsie explains.

“Until I realized the only person I never tried chasing was myself, my perspective on who I wanted to become then changed. In a world where we are constantly trying to prove to others our worth, we become lost in the process of finding our identity. Through struggle and adversity, the best thing you can do is Be You.”

For those inspired by Whitmore’s story and mission, the “BE YOU” brand offers products that embody this ethos. Check out the latest offers at www.BEYOUOfficialBrand.com and join the movement to be your true self. Follow along with the Oakland Ballers by visiting www.oaklandballers.com.

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JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.