American women, editor Sandoz observes, have long had a ""fierce love of sport"": In 1866, Vassar College already fielded two women's baseball teams. That love, based on the evidence of these mostly contemporary stories, poems, and novel excerpts, has produced some energetic, thoughtful explorations of the liberating possibilities of sport for women. Many of the pieces here deal with the struggles of women--especially adolescents--trying to accept that competition is good, that winning is even better, and that it's possible to be both a woman and an athlete without slighting either. Stephanie Grant's story ""Posting-Up"" offers a tough-minded description of the manner in which her adolescent narrator discovers the exhilaration of playing basketball well and aggressively. ""Scotti Scores,"" by Jane Gilliland, carries the idea a step further, exploring how the members of a high-school hockey team astonish themselves and their coach by cooperating to outplay a far more experienced team. Stories by Laurie Colwin, Ellen Gilchrist, Sara Maitland, and Jennifer Levin are particularly strong, as are the excerpts from novels by Carol Anshaw and Sara Vogan. Some tales suffer from seeming too programmatic, too thin and message-laden. But, overall, a useful introduction to an overlooked area in contemporary fiction and poetry.