The first thing I noticed was that at least two of the team owners (I don't know the Comets' owner by sight just yet) were present and representing their teams. They could have easily sent an underling, but they came themselves, which I thought was a good thing. Also, I wonder if the Pride has considered a giveaway of do-it-yourself Don DeDonatis kits... could be a great promotional idea. ;)
The Comets' selection of Olivia Galati at #2 also wasn't surprising. She's an excellent pitcher, solid hitter, and is from the Northeast, so she has the "homer" factor going for her. If I had not had the opportunity to see Galati pitch in last year's Super Regionals, I would have questioned making her such a high pick, but since I did have the opportunity to watch and analyze her skills and talents, there's no doubt in my mind that the Comets made a great choice.
Jolene Henderson went at #3, selected by the Bandits. If you'll recall, Henderson was also Bandit Bill's first-round selection in our mock draft. He knew who he wanted, and he got her! Henderson is the best of the best, and has been fine-tuned at a great program and in a great conference. As she exhibited yesterday against Arizona, she also swings a heavy stick. Pitchers rarely pull double duty in the pros, but it will be a nice luxury for the Bandits to have that option if the need ever arises.
The Pride's first selection was hardly a surprising one, as they selected Keilani Ricketts of Oklahoma with the #4 overall pick. Last I heard, Ricketts is committed to Team USA, but if she put her name in to be eligible for the draft, she must have some interest in going pro. Only time will tell, I guess...
The Pride followed that pick with their second selection of the day, and went right back to Norman, drafting catcher Jessica Shults. Shults was the best available catcher, in my eyes, but I'm kind of surprised the Pride picked her. They already have a surplus of talent in the catching department (Megan Willis, Kristyn Sandberg, & Lauren Lappin), so I'm not sure I see the logic in adding another player to that mix. Shults also is committed to Team USA, but she expressed her "excitement" over being drafted on Twitter Monday, so there is the possibility that she will play for the Pride.
The Comets held the #6 selection, and chose pitcher Jessica Moore from Oregon. I like Moore, but I'm not sure I totally get this pick. She probably would have fallen to the third round if the Comets had waited, but they apparently didn't want to take that chance and chose her here. She's a solid pitcher, and, like Henderson, comes from the PAC-12, so she's had to face the best of the best. Moore's social networks are private, so I've seen no reaction or word from her as to whether or not she plans to play, but she is not a part of Team USA, and if she does decide to play NPF, she'll be a solid part of the Comets' rotation.
The first real surprise selection of the draft came at #, when the Bandits selected pitcher Michelle Gascoigne from the University of Oklahoma. Gascoigne has had a great season thus far, and a solid career, but I'm not sure I get making her a second-round choice. Bandit Bill obviously sees something in her, though, and didn't want to risk letting her end up elsewhere if he waited too long. From what I've seen, neither Chanda Bell nor Michelle Moses will be returning next season, so Gascoigne will likely fill one of those vacated roles.
At #8, the Racers selected Ivy Renfroe, from my Lady Vols. I've never claimed impartiality where the Vols are concerned, and I'll not make a secret of the fact that I was ecstatic to see Ivy get drafted. She's an awesome individual off the field, and a great player on it! She'll represent the organization well. Again, possibly another player that would have still been available at a later point, but, like I wrote earlier, Akron needs pitching help, and a player like Renfroe will really help solidify their pitching staff.
Akron had the first pick of the third round, and threw out another surprise selection in Brianna Turang, also from the University of Oklahoma (that's four Sooners drafted in the first nine picks, if you're counting). Turang's a solid player, but not a great one, so this pick doesn't make a ton of sense to me. She led a star-studded Sooners team in batting average in 2011 and pulled double-duty, playing for both the Sooner women's soccer and softball teams for three years. Her versatility is definitely a plus, as I believe she can play both third base and the outfield.
Coming in at #10 on Monday night was the first name I didn't recognize. The Comets selected Cyndil Mathew from UMass. I don't know much of anything about Mathew, but this is the second consecutive season that the franchise has selected a UMass player in the draft (the Diamonds chose pitcher Sara Plourde last year).
The Bandits had the eleventh choice in the draft, and they used it to select Maggie Hull, an outfielder from Kansas. Hull ended last season with a .409 batting average, and is a great pickup for the Bandits! Right now, the Bandits outfield is thin, with only Megan Wiggins and Kimi Pohlman officially signed. Hull could easily fit right into the mix, and with a little maneuvering, that would be a dynamite starting outfield for the Bandits!
At #12, the Racers selected Brianna Cherry from Louisiana-Lafayette (don't be fooled by the Cajuns' propaganda - they are NOT the "Louisiana Rajun Cajuns". That Lafayette belongs right there past the hyphen). But Cherry has the fourth-highest batting average on the ULL team, hitting .374. She's a power hitter, with seven homers, seven doubles, and thirty RBI to her credit on the season. The Racers also needed outfield help, and Cherry adds to their now-surplus of talent at that position.
Raven Chavanne of Tennessee was selected with the 13th draft choice. The Bandits were apparently looking for versatility and speed, which Chavanne provides. They have a solid infield, with Alisa Goler and Amber Patton at the corners and a surplus of players up the middle, but Chavanne can back up Patton at third, play some outfield when/if necessary, and possibly be the most valuable bench player in the history of the NPF. And I'm only putting her on the bench because she'll more than likely miss part of the season as she tries out for Team USA.
At #14, the Comets selected Samie Garcia from South Carolina. A speedy shortstop, she very easily could hold the starting spot in her hand as she soon as she signs her contract. She's murder on the basepaths, and can just fly down the line. Blinding speed seems to be a lost art in the NPF, but maybe Garcia can be the player that brings it back.
The Bandits held the 15th draft choice, and Bandit Bill decided on Mel Dumezich from Texas A&M. Another star both at the plate and in the circle, she's a great choice for the Bandits! She'll probably fit into the #4 starter's role, and also provide a great pinch hitter for days when she's not starting in the circle. I'm actually kind of surprised that she lasted until the middle of the fourth round, but chalk up another steal for Bandit Bill (which rhymes, if your Southern accent is as thick as mine).
Closing out the fourth round, the Racers went with their own hometown hero, choosing Tess Sito from Georgia. A versatile infielder, Sito hails from the Buckeye State and is a sharp fielder. I think this is three or four years in a row that a Bulldog has been drafted, which speaks to the strength of Lu Harris-Champer's program. Sito was a good choice, and the Racers did a good job choosing her at #16. Higher probably would have been too high, but her skills and talent merits a late-round, "sleeper" selection.
The fifth and final round contained some of my favorite picks of the night. All four teams hit the ball out of the park with their selections.
The Racers led off by choosing Brigette Del Ponte from Arizona. Mike Candrea's program has turned out some stellar players, and Del Ponte is no exception. She's a power-hitting third baseman, and might actually give Kelley Montalvo some competition at the hot corner. Once again, another player that I'm surprised fell to the final round, but certainly a great pickup for Akron!
The Comets' final selection on Monday night was none other than Virginia Tech's Courtney Liddle. Liddle was one of my sleeper picks (proof here), and I was actually surprised not to see her name called sooner. Presently, she's leading the Hokies to one of their best seasons in recent memory. Her name is plastered throughout the VTech record books, as she is in the all-time top ten in ten different offensive categories. A very solid pickup for the Comets.
The selection of one of my sleeper picks was directly followed by the drafting of a second. Missouri's Jenna Marston was chosen by the Bandits with the 19th pick. Marston is probably the one player I'm most excited to see play at the professional level. She has yet to address her drafting via Twitter, but if she does play for the Bandits, who knows where she'll play! A catcher for the past two seasons, she also can play the middle infield and, I'd be willing to bet, some outfield. She's solid offensively, and calls a good game when behind the plate. "Versatile" scratches the surface.
The final draft pick of the 2013 NPF Draft belonged to the USSSA Pride, and with it, they selected another Team USA player, Missouri's Chelsea Thomas. More than anything, the Pride's picks seem to be planning for the future and nothing more, as their roster already sits at the maximum twenty players and all three of their selections are committed to Team USA. If Thomas were not a member of Team USA, she would have been drafted in the first round, no doubt, and very possibly #1 overall. She's arguably the best pitcher in the nation, and if she eventually decides to forgo Team USA and play NPF (not likely), she'll be a major asset to the league!
For a complete list of the draft picks, click here.
And now, for my post-draft "awards"... here we go!
Best Steal: Courtney Liddle/Comets
Player Drafted Too High: Brianna Turang
Best Player Drafted Too Low: Brigette Del Ponte
Team That Best Filled Their Needs: Akron Racers
Best Player Not Drafted: *
Player That Will Have the Biggest Immediate Impact: Rachele Fico/Racers
Player That Will Have the Biggest Long-Term Impact: Samie Garcia/Comets
* There's waaay too many that I could select here to choose just one. Kayla Braud of Alabama, Monica Perry of Florida State, Kathy Shelton of Baylor... the list goes on. As well as Taylor Hoagland of Texas, I would not be surprised to see all four of these players in the league at some point.