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NPF Conducts Supplemental Draft

National Pro Fastpitch held a supplemental draft late Tuesday evening. Players who had originally signed with the Colorado Altitude and the San Antonio Armadillos were available for the six 2004 NPF clubs.

Georgia Tech senior shortstop Tara Knudsen, originally with the Altitude, was drafted first by the New England Riptide. Northwestern infielder Carri Leto was picked up by the New York/New Jersey Juggernaut.

Catcher Stormy Hanson was the first Armadillo picked in the supplemental draft. The former Hoosier was followed by a current one, assistant coach Stacey Phillips. Phillips, the first overall pick in December's Elite Draft, was chosen by the Akron Racers.

The Texas Thunder chose Georgia outfielder Nicole Barber while the Arizona Heat drafted Ricki Walker sixth.

The supplemental draft was scheduled just nine days after a press conference in which the NPF announced that six teams - rather than eight - would compete in the 2004 season.

"When selecting venues, you look at the market, operator finance and venue availability. And, in the final couple of days as we were reaching the final mile marker, there were only six markets that met our criteria," said NPF president and CEO Richard Levine.

"Unfortunately, with this decision, comes the displacement of several players that have had their hearts and souls committed to the idea of playing professional softball for either the Colorado or San Antonio franchise," said Paul Plemons, principal owner and CEO of the New York/New Jersey Juggernaut said via the team's Web site.

Suzi Stauffer, president of the San Antonio Armadillos, was disappointed about the 2004 season, but looks forward to being a possible expansion team in 2005. In a letter to the San Antonio fans, she stated that "We were a late entry into the league, and despite so many people working together to make this happen on a short time frame, the honest assessment is we don't have enough time to do it right.

"As it is our desire to put a first class, professional product on the field and to provide the citizens of this community with a team they can be proud of both on the field and off, we have made a difficult decision to postpone our entry into the National Pro Fastpitch league until 2005."

Denver owner and general manager Danny Stroud was very supportive of the league, and wanted to make the point that he is very much excited about the NPF and the teams in the league. "It's great to have an opportunity in women's fastpitch where elite athletes can continue their careers and become the sports icons that the young girls need.

"For us, it clearly became a strategic decision that it was better to wait,"; Stroud continued. "Denver is tough market, and literally we have about one team in each type of professional league in Denver. Our fans are extremely finicky, and we felt we probably had just one chance to get it right. Business conditions were not stacking up for a 2004 launch and we thought it would be best for our long-term interests to be a little more patient."

The major difference caused by the team reduction is no divisional play. Instead, each of the six teams has increased the number of games from 56 to 60 in a national schedule.

Major League Baseball will continue to work with NPF to help develop relationships that will be beneficial to NPF as it moves forward with its 2004 launch. This relationship also offers MLB the opportunity to reach out to their female fan base, which is the goal of Commissioner Bud Selig's Initiative on Women and Baseball.

RESULTS OF THE NPF SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT - March 30, 2004

Team Player Position School
New England Tara Knudsen SS Georgia Tech
New York/New Jersey Carri Leto IF Northwestern
Sacramento Stormy Hanson C Indiana
Akron Stacey Phillips 1B Michigan State
Texas Nicole Barber OF Georgia
Arizona Ricki Walker UT Colorado State
New England Nicki Bowey OF Mercer
New York/New Jersey LaDonia Hughes OF LSU
Akron Nicole Trimboli OF Nebraska
Texas Jessica Wheeler SS San Jacinto JC
Arizona Brenda DeBlaes SS Belgium
New York/New Jersey Kathy Morton OF Louisiana-Lafayette
Texas Lea Mishlan SS South Florida
Arizona Monica Triner P South Florida
New York/New Jersey Anissa Meashintubby P Oregon
Arizona Alicia Smith OF Hofstra
Akron Meghan Clark 1B Mercer