ESPN announced Friday that former Olympic softball player Jessica Mendoza has been added to the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team for the remainder of the 2015 MLB season, along with the AL Wild Card game.
Mendoza made history on August 24 when she became the first woman at ESPN to call an MLB game. A week later, Mendoza called the Cubs–Dodgers game on Sunday Night Baseball, during which Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter.
According to ESPN's announcement Friday, Mendoza will appear for the final three Sunday Night Baseball games of the regular MLB season, plus the AL Wild Card game. ESPN does not have broadcast rights to any playoff games beyond the Wild Card.
Mendoza was a starting outfielder for the USA Softball Women's National Team during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In college, she and her Stanford teammates appeared in the Women's College World Series. Mendoza now was an announcer for the Women's College World Series for ESPN, and this year called the men's College World Series.
Mendoza's rise in ESPN ranks coincided with fellow analyst and former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling's troubles with the cable sports network.
On Thursday, Schilling was booted from the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team for the remainder of the MLB season, along with the AL Wild Card game. Schilling was pulled from the schedule after he tweeted an image macro comparing Muslim extremists to Nazis.
ESPN first pulled Schilling off the Little League World Series broadcast. After sitting out the week, Schilling exacerbated the situation by sending a rambling email to a reporter in which he questioned the reporter's integrity and made a snide comment about a fellow ESPN reporter.
The statement issued Thursday by ESPN was uncharacteristically candid, saying Schilling's actions have "not been consistent with his contractual obligations nor have they been professionally handled; they have obviously not reflected well on the company."
In Schilling's lengthy email to a reporter, he credited Mendoza's work as an analyst for its own merits:
"My suspension or not she deserves to be in a booth calling MLB games. Not to break a barrier, not to enter a new frontier, but because she earned it. She's one of the few still understanding if you work your ass off you can do what you dream."
ESPN has not made a decision about the Sunday Night Baseball tenure of Schilling nor Mendoza beyond the AL Wild Card game. Mendoza's next appearance will be Sunday, September 6, when division rivals St. Louis and Pittsburgh go head-to-head.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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