Kissimmee, FL-August 20, 2014-As the 2014 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Regular Season Champions, the USSSA Florida Pride enter the 2014 NPF Championship as the number one seed and will face the fourth seeded Pennsylvania Rebellion in a best-of-three series starting Wednesday night at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama. First pitch for game one is set for 8:00 PM (CT) while game two is set for 5:30 PM (CT) on Thursday. If the series goes to three games, then game three will be played Friday afternoon at either 11:00 AM or 1:30 PM (CT).
The winner of the Pride and Rebellion best-of-three series will face off against the winner of the Chicago Bandits and Akron Racers in a best-of-three Championship final. Game one of the final is set for 7:00 PM (CT) on Friday, game two is set for 2:00 PM (CT) on Saturday, and if the series goes to three games, then the third game is set for 3:30 PM (CT) Saturday.
Wednesday night’s game against the Rebellion will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network. All three games of the Championship final will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network as well. Earlier this season, the NPF announced the largest television package in league history which included 14 regular season games and these four post season games. Veteran play-by-play Eric Collins and former professional softball player Barbara Jordan will have the call for CBS. To find out what channel CBS Sports Network is in your area, click here.
CBSsports.com will live stream both Thursday games that take place at 5:30 and 8:00 PM (CT). The stream can be accessed by going to profastpitch.com and clicking on the live stream link.
The Pride head to the 2014 NPF Championship as the defending NPF Champions. In 2013, the Pride beat the Chicago Bandits two games out of three to claim the Cowles Cup for the second time in the organization’s history. Last year, the Bandits won game one before the Pride bounced back to win games two and three on the final day in Rosemont, IL. In the past four NPF Championship Series, the Pride and Bandits have faced off. The last NPF Championship Series winner who was not named the Pride or Bandits was the 2009 Rockford Thunder team which featured current Pride players Cat Osterman and Megan Willis.
Last week, the Pride and Rebellion played a four game series at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee where the Pride won the series 3-1. Heading into the NPF Championship there are several noteworthy stats and players to watch.
Pride Players to Watch:
- Cat Osterman, the now back-to-back NPF Pitcher of the Year, was literally unbeatable during the regular season with her 16-0 record. Her 16 wins, 0.56 ERA, and 160 strikeouts all led the NPF. The two-time Olympian gave up a total of eight earned runs in 100 innings pitched.
- Veteran Andrea Duran has been consistent all year which is why she was named the 2014 NPF Player of the Year. The former UCLA Bruin and Olympian leads the NPF in on-base percentage and walks and ranks in the top of almost every offensive category.
- Two-time Olympian Natasha Watley ended the 2014 regular season as the NPF batting average champion with her .403 average. Watley, who hit consistently all year, came on strong late as she hit .531 in the month of August.
- Rookie Madison Shipman was named the 2014 NPF Rookie of the Year after a dominant year offensive and defensively. Amongst all rookies, the 2014 SEC Player of the Year ranked first in RBIs (28), doubles (10), and on-base percentage (.417), and second in batting average (.344), homeruns (5), walks (18), stolen bases (7) and slugging percentage (.534).
- Breja’e Washington was named the Diamond Spikes Award Winner as the former Texas Longhorn stole a NPF-leading 17 bases in her rookie campaign.
Pennsylvania Rebellion Players to Watch
- Former Pride pitcher Sarah Pauly led the Rebellion pitching staff with 99 innings pitched and four wins. Her 55 strikeouts were tied for fourth-best in the NPF this season.
- Veteran Lauren Lappin was named to the 2014 All NPF Team after leading the Rebellion in batting average.
Akron Racers Players to Watch
- Shortstop Nerissa Myers led the NPF with 43 RBIs and 35 runs scored. Her 9 homeruns ranked second in the NPF and her .365 batting average ranked fourth. The former University of Lousiana Lafayette Ragin Cajun
- Second-year pitcher Rachele Fico, a member of the 2014 All NPF team, had a solid sophomore campaign. The former LSU Tiger was second in the NPF in wins with 11 and tied for fourth in strikeouts with 55.
Chicago Bandits Players to Watch
- Rookie Emily Allard had a All NPF Team performance in her first season. Her .385 batting average led all rookies and was second overall in the NPF while her 35 runs scored were tied for the NPF lead with Myers.
- Pitcher Michelle Gascoigne was named to the 2014 All NPF Team after a solid second season with the Bandits. The former Oklahoma Sooner was third in the NPF in ERA (1.09) and strikeouts (58) while her six wins ranked fifth.
- The Pride won the 2010 and 2013 NPF Championship. The 2010 Championship was played in Sulphur, Louisiana while the 2013 Championship was played in Rosemont, Illinois. This marks the first season for the NPF Championship to be played in the state of Alabama.
- The 2014 NPF Championship will featured the final games of a storied career for Pride pitcher Danielle Lawrie. Lawrie is set to retire at the conclusion of the 2014 season. After missing the 2013 season due to her pregnancy with daughter Madison, the two-time NCAA Player of the Year went 2-2 with 43 strikeouts in 42 innings in 2014.
- Hoover, Alabama is fifty miles from Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama. Veteran Kelly Kretschman rewrote the record books at Alabama as the program’s first All American. Two other former Crimson Tide will be playing in the NPF Championships–Akron’s Kelley Montalvo and Charlotte Morgan. The Rebellion’s Angel Bunner is an Auburn University graduate which is 100 miles southeast of Hoover.
- The 2014 Pride team now features the past four Diamond Spike Award winners–Washington (2014), Caitlin Lowe (2013), Sharonda McDonald (2012), and Natasha Watley (2011).
About USSSA Florida Pride:
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. 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 of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA.