CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP)Kelsie Whitmore pinch-ran for the Staten Island FerryHawks in their season opener Thursday night, becoming one of the first women to play in a league connected to Major League Baseball.

The 23-year-old Whitmore entered at first base for catcher Norberto Susini with two outs in the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Charleston Dirty Birds. She was left stranded at second base.

A former college softball player at Cal-State Fullerton, Whitmore signed with Staten Island this month, one of several notable moments for women in baseball this season.

Last week, San Francisco Giants coach Alyssa Nakken filled in as first base coach, becoming the first woman to coach on the field for a big league game. A few days before that, Rachel Balkovec won her debut managing the Low-A Tampa Tarpons in the New York Yankees’ system, becoming the first woman to skipper a team affiliated with a major league club.

Whitmore pitched and played in the outfield for the U.S. women’s baseball team from 2014-19 and spent parts of two seasons with the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association.

Atlantic League teams are not big league affiliates, but the circuit is an MLB partner league. It’s a step up in quality from the Pacific Association – for example, Staten Island’s starting pitcher Friday was two-time All-Star Julio Teheran, who was in the majors last year.

”I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given,” Whitmore said last week. ”This one, by far, I’m really looking forward to, because it’s next level for me.”

At least two other women have played in a league with a connection to MLB: Lee Anne Ketcham and Julie Croteau were on the Maui Stingrays in the Hawaiian Winter Baseball League in 1994.

Whitmore has been working with Staten Island pitching coach and former big leaguer Nelson Figueroa and is expected to take the mound at some point for the FerryHawks.

”Playing baseball at the highest level is my goal,” she said. ”You know, if you ask any other guy that’s going to be in the league what his goal is, it’s the same thing, to get to the next level and play at the highest level I could possibly play at.

”Eventually, I want to play in affiliated ball. I want to make this game my career, my living, and just, you know, be a part of it as much as I can.”

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