Softball became a varsity sport in 1975. Women were reported by the Sepiad to be playing “baseball” in the fall of 1905. The women students took up baseball more seriously in 1920, playing interclass games at the Metcalf Botanical Garden. A Providence Journal article in 1922, headed “Women Students at Brown Adopt National Game ... Enthusiasm Makes Amends for Occasional Lack of Skill,” noted, “For three years inter-class games have been played by the women students ... The game follows the rules of indoor baseball, played on a shortened diamond with a 12-inch soft ball and a smaller bat than regulation size. The girls this year have voted to play for seven innings, instead of the five of previous years.” Intercollegiate baseball for women began on May 12, 1928, when the Providence Journal announced, under “Pembroke Pounders and Wallopers from Wheaton to Clash in Baseball,” that “Brown University will send an almost secretly organized Varsity baseball team to the Hope high school field ... to play against the Wheaton College nine.” Newspaper men from three states, who had been reluctantly admitted, recorded the 21-8 victory of the Women’s College.
Pembroke College played softball against other New England colleges in the late 1940s, but the program waned in the 1950s and began to improve again in the 1960s. Arlene Gorton coached from 1962 to 1975. The 1975 team won seven and lost four, and the 1976 team, under Carole Kleinfelder, won eight and lost three. Gail Klock’s teams in 1977 and 1978 had losing seasons. When Phil Pincince took over the team in 1979, he changed the Brown softball team from what he termed a “recreational opportunity” to a competitive varsity sport, and built its schedule from its fifteen-game schedule of New England opponents to over forty games with top Eastern colleges. After Pincince’s first two years Brown has had consecutive winning seasons since 1981, and the women’s softball team won the Ivy title in 1982, tied with Princeton in 1986, came in second in the league in 1988, and won the championship again in 1990. Lisa Gawlak ’89 was selected for the All-Ivy team four times from 1986 to 1989, and Theresa Hirschauer ’89 three-times, in 1986, 1987, and 1989.