Softball Notebook

The Softball Channel’s Fastpitch Blog

07 2010

Racing into the Lead

The Akron Racers Sit Atop the Pro Softball World at 2010’s Midpoint

By Kayla Knight
TSC Contributor

As the National Pro Fastpitch league reaches the midpoint of its 2010 regular season, three of its teams remain in a tight race for top spot in the standings: the Akron Racers (12-6) lead the pack, with the USSSA Florida Pride (11-7) and Chicago Bandits (10-8) right on their heels. 
 
The fourth team, the Tennessee Diamonds (3-15), has really struggled. 
 
The disappointment has been palpable for the Diamonds, who relocated from Rockford to Nashville this spring after winning the NPF title last year as the Thunder. Although the team has shown signs of brilliance, there has been plenty of heartbreak to go around. 
 
The fact is the Diamonds are highly competitive when its superstar Monica Abbott is pitching, but not otherwise. Two nights ago Abbott led the Diamonds to an inspiring 2-1 victory over the Pride, then last night in her absence the team suffered a humiliating 15-1 loss to the same opponent. 
 
Fortunately for Tennessee, this year all NPF franchises are guaranteed a post-season berth regardless of their record. And the Diamonds will be able to rely heavily on Abbott in the playoffs, so don’t rule this team out yet. 
 
The Racers are flying right now, but the Florida Pride—aptly nicknamed the “Olympic Pride” because of the high percentage of ex-Olympic players on its roster (almost half)—are still the odds-on favorite to win the title this year. Although the Racers are playing inspired ball—led by pitcher Lisa Norris who is undefeated with seven wins—they just don’t have the horsepower the Pride has. 
 
In fact, Akron slipped into first place while many of the league’s ex-Olympians were in Caracas, Venezuela at the ISF World Championship, leading Team USA to its seventh consecutive World title. 
 
As far as the Chicago Bandits, they are right in the hunt. The Orange & Black hopes to rekindle the magic it had in 2008 when it won both the NPF Regular Season Championship and post-season Championship Series. Last night the Bandits took the Racers into extra innings, eventually falling victim to a two-run homer by Micaela Minner in the ninth. 
 
Yes, the plot will surely thicken as the NPF season slips into its second half!


One Response to “Racing into the Lead”

  1. Trying to be unbiased here, I think crowning Akron as the non-big-3 winner is a little premature. First, everyone thought the Pride would walk away with, at least, the regular season sporting a roster strewn of Olympic and past-Olympic players. Midway through the season, that is not the case.

    As for the Bandits, Jennie has pitched only 14 innings and is 1-1, yet the Bandits sit on top of the standings (barely). If you want to include Canney in the USA mix, she’s 1-2 (but she’s pitched much better than that). However, they have the top three hitters by batting average (Friedman, Folden and May), the top three in HRs (Findlay, May and Folden) and three in the top six in RBI’s (Findlay, Folden and May). Thorson is 5-2, Nimitz is 3-0 and Sallinger is 3-3 for an 11-5 record among non-USA pitchers.

    Although they haven’t excelled yet, the Pride with Burkhart, Pauly and Serrano have a potent group in the circle without Cat (who, btw, may be out for the year but let’s hope not!!!). With Cat going on the DL, I think these ladies will improve their games in her absence.

    Monica, despite her stellar stats, is 4-2 on the season. She can, and has, been beaten and come post-season, I think Tennessee’s lack of offense will come to haunt them even if Monica were to pitch every game.

    Do I think that Monica, Jennie, and Cat have an effect on the season? Absolutely. Do I think they control who will win at the end? No. Do I think that Akron would walk away with the title should the “big 3″ not be allowed to pitch? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Yes they might win, but others—especially the Bandits—could take the title just as easily.

    That is one of the things I love about this game. With or without Jennie, Monica and Cat, the final outcome isn’t close to being known.

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