The fourth National Pro Fastpitch softball season has officially concluded with two former Lady Vol All-Americans having made their mark on the league during the 2007 campaign.
Despite joining the first-year expansion Washington Glory late in the regular season due to her U.S. National Team summer commitments, former Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott helped lead her pro team to the NPF Championship. The Salinas, Calif., native outdueled current U.S. teammate and former University of Texas pitcher Cat Osterman, 3-2, in 10 innings back on Aug. 2 while striking out 18 in her pro-league debut against the Rockford Thunder. This past weekend, Abbott not only no-hit Rockford on Saturday in the opening round of the playoffs, but secured the title for the Glory on Sunday in the finals with a 3-1 victory over the Thunder. After working five frames to grab the triumph in the championship-clinching contest, Abbott was chosen as the NPF Championship Series Most Valuable Player.
Lindsay Schutzler’s Chicago Bandits recorded a 24-20 regular season record to finish out of the playoff hunt by just a single game. Despite that disappointment, the Monterey, Calif., native made quite an individual statement in her first year in the pro ranks. Picking up seemingly where she left off at Tennessee, the three-time Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American tortured opposing defenses by leading the Bandits in runs scored (22), triples (four), walks (18) and stolen bases (20) while hitting .265 with eight RBI and a .385 on-base percentage.
The list of NPF participants from Tennessee now stands at three as the duo of Abbott and Schutzler joined former pro Sarah Fekete as Lady Vols to have played in the league. Fekete, a 2006 first-team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American, led the Force during the 2006 pro campaign with a .366 average on 30-of-82 hitting despite missing much of the season as a member of USA Softball’s gold medal-winning World University Games squad that competed in T’ai-nan City, Taiwan.
Former Tennessee players Kristi Durant (New England Riptide - 2006) and India Chiles (Akron Racers - 2007) were also drafted by the NPF, but weren’t able to participate due to injury.
Major League Baseball is the Official Development Partner of National Professional Fastpitch in the category of women’s professional fastpitch softball. The partnership, which began the fall of 2002, is part of The Commissioner’s Initiative on Women and Baseball, a league-wide effort to help Major League Baseball and the 30 Major League Clubs build stronger relationships with female audiences.