On a rainy Friday night in Akron, National Pro Fastpitch
(NPF) announced the recipients of the regular season awards, including
league player of the year.
The big award winner on the night was Iyhia McMichael from the Akron
Racers. McMichael, who played college ball at Mississippi State
University, won both the 2004 NPF Batting Championship and the 2004 NPF
Player of the Year Award.
During the regular season, McMichael posted a batting average of .349, an
on-base percentage of .443 and a slugging percentage of .430. The number
one pick in the 2004 NPF Senior Draft tied for third in the league with
four homeruns and was seventh in the league with 17 runs batted in.
The remaining three awards on the night went to members from the Texas
Thunder. Manager Wayne Daigle was the recipient of the 2004 NPF Manager of
the Year Award. The award was his fourth coach of the year award in his
career, as he was named Big 8 Coach of the Year on three separate
The other winners from the Thunder were pitcher Christa Williams and second
baseman Lindsay Gardner. Williams took home the leagues Pitcher of the
Year award after leading the league with a 0.68 earned run average in
better than 142 innings pitched on the season. Williams was second in the
league with 14 wins, trailing Amanda Scott of the Juggernaut, and was fifth
in strikeouts with 132. Gardner claimed the 2004 Defensive Player of the
Year Award after a stellar season on the diamond. She finished the regular
season with a .964 fielding percentage, 115 put outs and 101 assists. The
University of Texas graduates helped lead the Thunder to a first place
finish in the regular season with a record of 41-17.
In addition to the five regular season awards, the Cowles Cup will be
awarded to the Championship team following the final game of the
Championship series. The Cowles Cup was named in honor of the Cowles
Family, founders of National Pro Fastpitch. The Cowles family began the
dream of a professional softball league after daughter Jane presented the
idea to them back in the 1980s. The Cowles Cup is a beautiful crystal bowl
set atop a two-tiered cherry wood base. It will travel to the home of the
winning team each year.
NPF, the world’s premier professional fastpitch softball league for women,
consists of six teams located throughout the United States and features
former USA Softball Women’s National Team members, collegiate All-Americans
and all-conference selections. The 2004 season has featured the inaugural
NPF All-Star Game, the first-ever NPF Championship Semifinal and the first
NPF Championship Series.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Denver, and has been in
operation since 1997 under the names Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and
Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL).