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WWU’s first women's club baseball team wins national championship

Starting in the winter of 2023, this victory marks their progress as a club

The first-ever Western Washington University women's club baseball team celebrates after winning the Baseball For All Women's Club Baseball Championships in Los Angeles, Calif. on April 7, 2024. Many had never played a baseball game before the tournament. // Photo courtesy of Lauren Cockrell

A team that defied all odds ended up on top. The Western Washington University women's club baseball team recently won the Baseball For All Women's Club Baseball Championships on April 5 to 7, in Los Angeles. 

Baseball For All is an organization founded by Justine Siegal to make women's baseball a NCAA sport. But that couldn't happen overnight. The first step was to form club baseball teams all over the country and get people interested. 

“The BFA Women's College Club Baseball initiative has the long game in mind. Yes, it gives women in college today an opportunity to continue playing, but it also lays the groundwork for future generations — one where girls will have opportunities to play on NCAA women's baseball teams and even earn scholarships to do so,” said Lena Park, the director of content and program development at Baseball For All, in an email. “This is a women and student-led initiative that's growing at the national level.”

That's where Western’s Lauren Cockrell comes into the picture. Cockrell is the founder, manager, coach, student and player for Western’s women's club baseball. She founded the club in February of 2023. At their first practice, only three people showed up. But with persistent advertising, they were able to make a full team. 

The team faced many hurdles to get to where they are today. From finances to finding places to practice, Cockrell said. It was an uphill battle until the very end but the dedication and preservation of the team is what got them there. 

According to Selma Powers, a player on the team, one of the biggest hurdles the team faced was not being taken seriously as women wanting to play baseball, like people saying “oh you mean softball.”

“All those comments are constant and I feel like that frustration pushed us,” Powers said. “We had something to prove.”

Even with people underestimating them before the tournament, the team still went out and gave it their all. 

“Throughout the tournament, we had this energy that no other team could match. The dugout was never silent,” Cockrell said. “No one was sitting down, no matter the score, no matter who was up, no matter who you're playing against, the energy was up.” 

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Western Washington University's Piper Mckibbin bats in the Baseball For All Women's Club Baseball Championships on April 7, 2024, in Los Angeles, Calif. Mckibbin played a crucial role in getting the team to where they are by stepping up and becoming the assistant coach. // Photo courtesy of Lauren Cockrell

Before joining, a majority of the team had never played a game of baseball in their life. They never backed down and stayed aggressive even when they were losing, Cockrell said. They fed off of each other's energy.

"Western was a dark horse. Nobody knew what to expect when they came on the women's college club scene,” Siegal said. “The team is a true testament to what is possible when you put in the work and give it everything you have. I couldn’t be more proud of coach [Cockrell] and how she built this team." 

Western played three games throughout the tournament and went undefeated. They were determined to defy the odds and win the championship.

“I hope people keep underestimating us. That's what really drove us. A lot of the teams have never heard of us," Jenifer Landin-Reyes, a student player on the team, said. “That underestimation drove us into pushing harder and proving ourselves … knowing that we started with so many troubles, but we're able to make it all the way to the end.” 

Bree Nelson, a student and player on the team, said that girls belong in sports. Women are often excluded from sports, but women should be included in all spaces, which is why baseball means so much to her.

“As someone who grew up playing baseball and ultimately having to quit because I was no longer welcome in that space, it makes it all the more emotional for me to be back and especially with all girls," Nelson said. “Growing up as the only girl on boys' teams — so, now to be surrounded by women — it's really special and comforting.” 

Even though people told these girls that baseball was for boys all their lives, they pushed through and won the national championship. 

“You're not crazy for wanting to play baseball instead of softball,” Cockrell said. “Like it shouldn't be this abnormal thing. It's a sport. Anyone can play any sport.”

Meladie Young

Meladie Young is in her second year at Western majoring in Visual Journalism. She is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front this quarter. In her free time you can find her with her camera or watching hockey. You can reach her at

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