Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NPF Award Winners Announced

The NPF announced their season-end award winners last night, including Player, Pitcher, and Rookie of the Year and the 2014 All-league squad. There were few surprises, although arguably the biggest award given out was probably the biggest "Um, what?" of the night.

Also, one note before I begin the rundown of the award winners... am I the only one that thinks they need more original names for these awards? Major League Baseball has the Cy Young award; the NPF has "Pitcher of the Year". MLB has the "MVP"; the NPF has "Player of the Year". Just a thought.

Unsurprisingly and more-than-deservingly, Cat Osterman took home Pitcher of the Year honors. After an absolutely *amazing* season that included a 16-0 undefeated record, there was no other player that came close to taking home the award over here. After her Brett Favre-esque return from an announced retirement, Osterman has enjoyed one of the best seasons of her career.

On the offensive side, Akron's Nerissa Myers was named Offensive Player of the Year. After being traded from Chicago this past off-season due to a lack of available playing time, Myers led the Racers to a surprising .500 record. Myers led the league in RBIs and slugging percentage, was among the leaders in batting average with a .365 mark herself, and clubbed nine home runs.

Rookie of the Year was without a doubt the tightest race of any of the awards, as both the Bandits' Emily Allard and the Pride's Madison Shipman put together incredibly impressive seasons. Both garnered all-league honors, but it was Shipman who took home the individual hardware. It was almost as if the tall shortstop didn't miss a beat moving from college to the pros, and performed so well that veteran Natasha Watley was forced to move to the outfield to make sure Shipman had a spot in the lineup each day. Shipman's stat line included a .344 batting average, 5 home runs, and 28 RBIs.

Coaching Staff of the Year was awarded to manager Brian Levin and his staff in Akron. Finishing the season at .500 was certainly an achievement for a team with thirteen first-year players and the Racers caught fire the last couple of weeks of the regular season and are certainly poised to make some noise and potentially play spoiler in the playoffs.

Defensive Player of the Year went to the young lady I call the Derek Jeter of the NPF, Tammy Williams of Chicago. The Northwestern product has made highlight-reel plays on many occasions this season, and even made it to #4 on ESPN's Top 10 for the triple play she started a couple of weeks back.

Rookie Breja'e Washington took home the Diamond Spike Award for leading the league in stolen bases, while Kelley Montalvo was named the recipient of the Jennie Finch Award.

The Player of the Year honor was awarded to USSSA third baseman Andrea Duran. Like I mentioned at the top, this was the only award that made me wonder. Nothing against Duran, as she has been an ambassador for the sport and one of the most longeved players in the sport and put together an excellent season in 2014, but had I a ballot, she would not have been in my top three. Duran led the league in OBP and walks and, the NPF release notes, was in the top 10 in offense throughout the season.

Finally, the all-NPF  team was announced. A tie at the outfield spot added an extra member to the team. Nine position-specific players, four pitchers, and six at-large selections make up the All-Star squad. Chicago had seven players on the team, while regular-season champions the Pride had five. Akron also had five players honored, while the Rebellion had two, Lauren Lappin and Sarah Pauly. Worth nothing is that four rookies (Allard, Shipman, Ashley Thomas, Jill Barrett) made the team, and the depth at shortstop in this league is evident as three of the four starting shortstops gathered all-star honors. The complete All-NPF roster is below.

2014 All-NPF  Roster:
C – Kristen Butler (Bandits)
1B – Brittany Cervantes (Bandits)
2B – Lauren Lappin (Rebellion)
3B – Andrea Duran (Pride)
SS – Tammy Williams (Bandits)
OF – Caitlin Lowe (Pride)
OF – Natasha Watley (Pride)
OF – (Tie) Megan Wiggins (Bandits)
OF – (Tie) Emily Allard (Bandits)
P – Cat Osterman (Pride)
P – Monica Abbott (Bandits)
P – Rachele Fico (Racers)
P – Michelle Gascoigne (Bandits)
At Large – Nerissa Myers (Racers)
At Large – Madison Shipman (Pride)
At Large – Sarah Pauly (Rebellion)
At Large – Kelley Montalvo (Racers)
At Large – Ashley Thomas (Racers)
At Large – Jill Barrett (Racers)

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