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As five teams battled for the final three play-off spots over the weekend, NPF allowed the spotlight to shine locally and gave team owners, staff and fans time to honor players selected to the 2007 All-NPF Team in their hometown markets.
The league selected 12 first-team players and six at-large selections to round out the 18-player roster. Included on the team are members from all six NPF franchises.
First place Washington Glory stand-outs include Amber Jackson (Shortstop), Oli Keohohou (At-Large), Nichole Thompson (At-Large), Desiree Serrano (Pitcher), and Sarah Pauly (Pitcher).
Jackson, in her rookie season, has led the league in just about every offensive category throughout the year and was also the Glory’s mainstay at shortstop. Amber is second in the league in batting average at .372 and leads the league in homeruns at 15; RBI’s at 38 and amassed a league leading slugging percentage of .814.
Keohohou had no errors at first base this season for the Glory in addition to a tremendous year offensively. At the plate, Oli ranked sixth in on-base percentage (.440) and was second in slugging percentage (.667) and home runs (11).
Thompson had a great season in the field at second base and hit .298 for the year with 22 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, and 22 runs scored. She also had very strong on-base and slugging percentages at .387 and .500, respectively.
Serrano was absolutely stellar in the circle this year as her 18 wins set an all-time NPF record for the regular season. Desiree also ranked first in total innings at 140.1 while only allowing an astonishingly low 20 walks during her 22 appearances.
Pauly had an exceptional season in the circle for the Glory with 13 wins and only 6 losses. She struck out 122 batters, the second-best mark in the league, and compiled a 1.38 ERA which ranked third best in the NPF.
The 2007 NPF Champion New England Riptide earned third place over the weekend and had two players selected to the team, including Shanel Scott in the outfield and Eileen Canney at pitcher.
Scott set the NPF all-time single season stolen base record with 34 (in 37 attempts), eclipsing Kristin Zaleski’s previous record on the last day of the season. Scott has been the spark plug for the Riptide offense most of the season, batting .327. Her .457 on-base percentage ranked third in the league and her 28 runs scored landed second. Scott also led the league in runs scored with 33.
Canney, the No. 2 overall pick in the NPF Draft, came to the Riptide in June fresh from an appearance in the Women’s College World Series. Canney justified her high pick as she compiled a 9-6 record for the Riptide. Additionally, Canney led the league in strikeouts with 137 in 109 innings pitched and also had the league’s lowest ERA at 1.16. A power pitcher, Canney was among the hardest pitchers to hit this year, giving up two home runs (fewest among pitchers with 70 or more innings pitched), six doubles and no triples.
The Akron Racers, who clinched a No. 2 seed in the playoffs over the weekend contributed three players, including Veronica Wootson, Norrelle Dickson and Kristen Butler in the second base, third base and at-large positions, respectively.
Wootson, an un-drafted free agent who signed a contract to play for the Racers just prior to the start of spring training, hit nine homeruns and four doubles while collecting 46 hits in 148 official at-bats for a .534 slugging percentage and a .311 average. The Florida State grad ranked among the offensive league leaders since day one, scoring 27 runs and chipping in 27 RBIs for the second place Racers. She was also dangerous on the base paths, swiping 10 bases while posting a .329 on-base percentage. Wootson notched seven game-winning hits, three of which were home runs.
Dickson, currently the NPF’s top hitter, posted 53 hits in 137 official at-bats. Her remarkable .387 average included 20 runs scored, six RBIs and a .436 on-base percentage. The Racers’ slap hitter grabbed 13 stolen bases and remains one on the leagues most dangerous players to contain. Defensively, Dickson committed only six errors at the hot corner.
Butler, the Racers’ second-year catcher, has proven that she can control the game from her management of the talented Racers’ pitching staff to her ability to pick-off runners at any base. An at-large selection, Butler successfully gunned down 16 runners. She posted a .283 batting average that included 13 runs scored, 29 RBIs, five doubles and nine home runs. Butler is the only player in the league to have blasted two grand slams, and she has posted 34 hits in 120 at-bats while carrying a stellar .550 slugging percentage.
The Philadelphia Force, who just missed a playoff spot in an extra innings game with the Thunder, had four players named to the All-NPF Team including Kellie Wilkerson (first base), Sharonda McDonald (outfield), Kristina Thorson (pitcher) and Chelsea Spencer (at-large).
Wilkerson showed once again that she can be an offensive force. Switching between first base and designated player throughout the year, Wilkerson powered five home runs for the Force, a mark which tied for the team lead. She led the league in base on balls and was second in on-base percentage. Wilkerson also has team highs in walks with 32 and runs batted in with 18 while posting a .321 batting average.
Fresh off her College World Series run with Texas A & M, McDonald joined the Force and added speed and defensive skills to the lineup. McDonald had the fourth-best batting average in the league and led the Force in stolen bases with 13 while hitting .331.
Thorson (14-5) pitched 12 complete games this season and pitched a no-hitter against Team China. Pitching 116.2 innings, Thorson only gave up 20 earned runs for a 1.22 earned run average which ranked second in the NPF.
Spencer led the league in batting average earlier in the 2007 season and ended with a .333 mark that ranked third overall. With five home runs, she tied for the team lead, and she led the team in triples with three while drawing 15 walks.
While in hot pursuit of the coveted fourth playoff position, the Rockford Thunder honored three players selected to the team, including Kristen Zaleski (outfield), Mackenzie Vandergeest (catcher) and Serena Settlemier (at-large).
Zaleski earned All-NPF Team honors for the third straight season after hitting .328 and ranking in the top seven in the league in plate appearances, triples, hits, at-bats, walks, batting average and runs scored. Zaleski also has a perfect fielding percentage this season, not commiting an error to go with her five outfield assists.
Vandergeest, a player who is in her third year in the league, has enjoyed a career year in which she reached career highs in several offensive categories, including homeruns, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage and walks. Within the league leaders, Vandergeest is tied for second in walks with 26, tied for third in doubles with five, fifth in on-base percentage at .444, sixth in homeruns with seven and tied for fifth in RBIs with 26. She has also thrown out 14 would-be base stealers.
Settlemier has been the team’s ace pitcher, finding herself in the top 10 in several categories within the league leaders. She is tied for first in complete games with 12, second in innings pitched (125.0), batters faced (486) and at-bats with 444, sixth in ERA at 1.47, fifth in wins (10) and games started (14), and eighth in strikeouts with 85.
Jaime Clark, a three time All-NPF team member, earned at-large honors for her outstanding season with the Chicago Bandits. She led the Bandits in RBIs with four and homeruns with six. She tied for second on the team in batting average with a .303 mark, and she ranked among the National Professional Fastpitch league leaders in batting average (No.11), home runs (T-7th) and RBIs (No.7).
The exciting play-off contention weekend leads right into next weekend as NPF concludes its 2007 season with the Washington Glory, Akron Racers, New England Riptide and Rockford Thunder competing for the coveted Cowles Cup at the NPF Championship Series. The double elimination championship games begin Friday, August 24 at Sunset Point Park in Kimberly, WI. NPF looks forward to honoring the All-NPF Team, NPF Award winners and the Championship Series Teams throughout the Championship Series weekend starting with a 7 p.m. Meet-and-Greet at Tanner's in Kimberly.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.cardinalyouthsoftball.com. A series pass is just $35. Passes for only Friday or Saturday action is $15. Sunday passes are $25.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL).