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When political foes play for the same team

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Electoral politics enter into bipartisan women's softball game
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is co-captain and head of the Democratic National Committee
  • Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, co-captain, is running for Senate

Washington (CNN) -- Some of the most political, partisan and competitive women in politics compete on the same team -- a softball team, anyway.

The annual Congressional Women's Softball Game pits members of Congress against a media team to raise money for young women in their fight against breast cancer.

While the early morning practices and the rare injuries are all for a good cause that has already raised $150,000 this year, in this midterm election year "bases loaded" has additional meaning.

Not only is control of the Senate on the line but so are some members' jobs -- scenarios where errors have consequences.

Republican co-captain and six-year softball veteran is running in one highly competitive race.

After numerous easily won congressional contests in West Virginia's second district, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is vying for the open senate seat in her state.

And it's her fellow co-captain's job to defeat her.

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In her role as head of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is responsible for electing as many Democrats to office as possible.

It's an environment ripe for bitter rivalries to infiltrate any task at hand.

But on the diamond, Capito and Wasserman Schultz insist politics is put aside as they focus on two common goals: beating the press and cancer.

"We avoid politics on the field," Capito said.

Wasserman Schultz, who battled breast cancer, agreed during the joint interview at an early rainy morning practice.

"I don't' think we have the desire to talk politics on the field. We're just friends out here," she said.

Most of the time, anyway.

Capito admitted that sometimes partisan discussions do ensue, but teammates from the opposite side of the aisle shut it down, fast.

"It's not like we haven't edged into politics, but then we pull ourselves back," Capito said.

Wasserman Schultz, who is considered a partisan firebrand, an effective but sometimes contentious quality atop the national Democratic Party, insists that the field is "a politics-free zone."

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While their sometimes thrice a week practices might not be overtly political, Capito admits that it does sometimes "enter into our minds because we're living it."

But for the sake of beating the media team, which they've done one in five games, and for raising money for young cancer survivors, they maintain that the field is a "refuge" for the 20 members who can put their smart phones down, pick up a bat and enjoy the early morning turf field.

But politics runs through their blood and they proved that it is omnipresent.

Capito hopes for "a great crowd for a great cause."

That's diplomatic trash talk," Wasserman Schultz quipped with a laugh, adding, "She's running for the Senate."

"Yeah, I'm running for the Senate," Capito acknowledged.

Then the two hugged.

The author is a member of the press team, also known as the Bad News Babes.

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