Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Where Are They Now: Kayla Cox

Who is she? Kayla Cox, a former pitcher for the NC State Wolfpack and the Tampa Spartans.

What is she known for? Following a respectable freshman campaign at NC State, Kayla transferred to Tampa and promptly became one of the top hurlers in all of Division 2, with a 0.64 ERA in her three years with the Spartans and 756 strikeouts to go along. I had Cox high on my draft board prior to this year’s NPF draft, but she elected not to pursue pro ball.

Here’s a fun fact… Kayla calls herself the “most competitive person alive”. If her on-field performances weren’t evidence enough proof of that, she volunteered this example: “When I am on the treadmill at the gym, I compete with whoever is next to me to go faster and longer than them, when they have no clue!”

What’s she up to now? Following the end of her playing career, Kayla is finishing up her last semester of studies with the goal to be the first person in her family to graduate college. Kayla is presently working as a model for the Wilhelmina Miami fitness division, one of the top modeling agencies in the country. Kayla will be a full-time model for the agency following her graduation in December. She says “Ideally, I hope to get the chance to model for softball companies, since it’s the sport I love so much.”

Contact information: You can find Kayla on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @kaylkcox

Monday, September 22, 2014

News & Tidbits - 9-22-14

Photo cred: Wikipedia
Lots of newsworthy headlines and stories this week... I've elected to compile them all with little blurbs in this one, single article.

- Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso joined the ranks of the very best of the best of folks associated with Bishop Montgomery High School, as she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. The 2013 National Championship-winning coach has a 901-281-2 record in twenty years at OU. A 2012 NFCA Hall of Famer, Gasso played for Bishop Montgomery for all four years of high school.

- ProSwings, on the Justin's World "recommended" list and run by former NPF player Stephanie Best has expanded in more ways than one, according to recent social media posts and a statement from Best herself. Not only is the company adding a pitching-centered instructor to the staff, but they are also expanding to include a full-on baseball division within the company. Former South Carolina pitcher Audrey Broyles will handle the instruction of pitchers under the ProSwings label, while Greg Smith, an Embry Riddle (NAIA) product and former professional player & collegiate coach, is the head of the new baseball division. Best says "[Smith] will be playing a huge role in launching the baseball side of things... He's young, driven, and motivated, so I'm excited and hopeful to see what he can add to ProSwings”.

- Former Georgia and Mississippi State hurler & current Akron Racer Alison Owen had her high school jersey retired this past week. Owen, a product of East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, Georgia, was the first softball player to have her number, #4, adorn the outfield fence of the school’s softball field. Something I did not know that was mentioned in an article about the jersey retirement was that, as a high school senior, Owen led her team in home runs.

- Pennsylvania Rebellion rookie catcher Mandy Ogle launched her line of t-shirts this week. You can find them all, featuring her personal logo, here.

- Former Boston U assistant coach & current Arizona State graduate manager Suzie Rzegocki was inducted into her own high school’s hall of fame yesterday. Lemont High School in Illinois inducted their 2007 graduate as part of a three-person 2014 class. Rzegocki, who went onto a four-year career at Purdue after high school, is the first athlete in the past decade to be inducted into the school’s HOF. Rzegocki holds many Lemont school records in the pitching department, including wins, ERA, no-hitters, shutouts, complete games, and strikeouts.

Friday, September 19, 2014

USSSA Pride Announce Fall Tour

Similar to the NPF "Back to School" tour of years past, the USSSA Pride will host a six-game, three-state tour against collegiate programs at the beginning of November. Featuring opponents that include the Georgia Bulldogs and 2014 WCWS participants the Florida State Seminoles, the tour will feature most of the Pride's regular-season roster, including Danielle Lawrie, who will be playing in her final games before officially joining the "retirement" ranks.

The Pride will play six different teams (Georgia, Georgia Tech, Wallace State, UAB, Mercer, & Florida State) in a span of ten days, November 6th to the 15th.

In the sextet of opponents, the Pride's hitters will likely face two of the best pitchers currently in college softball, in Lacey Waldrop of Florida State and Chelsea Wilkinson of Georgia. They'll also visit the UAB Blazers, who are frequent visitors to the NCAA tournament.

Only two of the former Olympians that have gained the Pride so much notoriety will participate in the tour; Andrea Duran and Kelly Kretschman, both former members of Team USA, will lead their teammates into battle. Other Pride players on the team include Gionna DiSalvatore; Courtney Ceo; Alexa Peterson; Amanda Kamekona; Lawrie; Brigette Del Ponte; Kristyn Sandberg; Jordan Taylor; Chelsea Thomas; Cassie Tysarczyk; Breja'e Washington; and Megan Willis. Absent from the roster are the likes of Caitlin Lowe, Natasha Watley, and Cat Osterman.

Worthy of note is a change in pace from last year's tour, when some choice members of other NPF squads donned Pride uniforms to participate in certain stops on the tour. It doesn't look like that will happen this year.

The release does not mention who will be coaching the Pride team. 2014 assistant coach Jenny Gladding is the logical choice, as she works year-round for the USSSA organization and doesn't have the tie-down of a collegiate coaching job that regular-season HC Gerry Glasco (now an assistant at Texas A&M) does. If Glasco does, however, end up helming the team, November 6th will mark his sooner-than-expected return to Athens to face the Bulldogs, his former team until his move to A&M this summer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Where Are They Now: Hailey Barraco

Who is she? Hailey Elizabeth Barraco, a former St. Petersburg College standout and ex-reserve outfielder for the Central Florida Knights.

What is she known for? Barraco’s name may not be one that many softball fans will recognize, but the Fort Myers native was a high school star, a junior college stud, and a Division 1 reserve extraordinaire.
Hailey and her family on UCF senior day in 2013

Here’s a fun fact… In addition to her very intriguing career of choice, which you’ll read more about below, Hailey enjoys cooking and, like many even casual chefs, she draws inspiration and new ideas from the Food Network TV channel.

What’s she doing now? Hailey is presently working towards her Master’s degree, with a goal of going into detective work after her graduation in May. She says she has wanted to go into law enforcement since she started watching TV crime dramas and has gone on “ride-alongs” with local officers. Hailey says “many influential people in my life have chosen this career field, as well”.

Contact information: You can find Hailey on Facebook & Instagram @haileybarraco

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hall of Fame News - Florida State & Baylor

More Hall of Fame news to share to start off this week. We’ve got a couple of news items to share from a couple of different schools and parts of the country.

Firstly, Florida State legend Jessica van der Linden Boulware led the seven-member class of 2014 inducted in  Tallahassee last week.

Joined by athletes from at least three other sports, and others, van der Linden was finally enshrined among other Seminole athletic greats. A dual-threat player, pitching as well as swinging the bat, van der Linden’s final two seasons were much-heralded and accolade-filled.

A back-to-back ACC Player of the Year in those years, van der Linden also took home first-team All-American honors in 2003 and 2004.

Van der Linden also swept the National awards in her senior season, adding the National Player of the Year trophy and the Honda Award to her trophy case.

Across the country from Tallahassee, two current and former Baylor Bears got their own HOF honors at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, Arizona.

Bears’ current assistant coach Mark Lumley and alumni Ashley Monceaux (class of ’07) were both inducted into the high school’s HOF last week, as well. Lumley coached multiple sports for thirteen years in the Flowing Wells district and was twice named Coach of the Year by the Arizona Daily Star and Arizona Coaches Association, respectively.

Monceaux also participated in three sports, lettering in volleyball and basketball to go along with four years as a softball starter. At Baylor, Monceaux earned All-American honors in her senior season in 2007, and still holds the Bears’ single-season home run record.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Can You Name That College Softball Stadium?

Teams, coaches, players… those names are fairly easily remembered. But when it comes to the stadiums that they all call their office, the rare times we mention them it’s in passing and without much thought.

But for those of you with excellent memories, we’ve put together a quiz for you. We’ll give you twenty-six stadiums and you have to figure out who the team is that plays there. Simple enough, right?

And no Googling. We have no way to check to make sure you don’t, of course, but it just spoils the fun.

Check out the quiz here and when you’re done, let us know how you do!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Softball on "The Biggest Loser"

When the popular NBC "reality" weight-loss show The Biggest Loser premieres it's 16th season on September 11th, there will be at least one face on the show that is familiar to softball fans. Former Olympic gold medalist Lori Harrigan-Mack is a contestant on the most recent edition of the show.

Harrigan-Mack, who took home gold medals in three different Olympic games in 1996, 2000, and 2004, is part of the "Glory Days" season of the show, as her fellow competitors are also all former top-level athletes.

For those of you who do not know much about the show, contestants live on a ranch with daily emphasized training and participate in competitions against one another to test their endurance, strength, and more. At the end of the show, the winner will receive a $250,000 prize, while one "at home" winner (eliminated contestant with the highest percentage of weight lost) will take home $100,000.