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Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016 NPF Awards Recap

As the NPF Championship Series rages on in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the USSSA Pride and Chicago Bandits have a 1-0 lead in their respective best-of-three series' of the semifinal round, let's take a look at the league's 2016 award winners.

Player of the Year: Kelly Kretschman, USSSA Pride
     (The 2016 Triple Crown winner was the stand-alone favorite for her second-consecutive Player of the Year honor after putting together a season that included a near-.500 (.466) batting average and a league-leading thirteen home runs. Kretschman's season-ending batting average was nearly 100 points above her nearest competition in the category, while she was one of just four players to hit double-digit home runs. Her .821 slugging percentage along was nearly TWO hundred points above her nearest competitor. Quite possibly the easiestly-award in NPF history.)

Pitcher of the Year: Monica Abbott, Scrap Yard Dawgs
     (Abbott was her usual dominant self in her new uniform in 2016, amassing an 18-1 record with a sub-1.00 ERA. Her 167 strikeouts dwarfed the rest of the league in the circle. Though backed by a breakout offense, Abbott carried the first-year expansion Dawgs into the postseason with her work in the circle.) 

Rookie of the Year: Sami Fagan, Akron Racers
     (Rounding out the trio of obvious award winners, Fagan took home the well-earned title of top newcomer. The first person in line in Kretschman's stead, she played like a veteran herself at times, clobbering nine home runs and collecting more total bases than every player not named Kretschman. Though other first-year players came within striking distance of Fagan's lead in a single category, none put together the all-around stellar campaign she did that likely would have earned her POTY honors, as well, were it not for Kretschman.)

Rally Spikes Award (most stolen bases): Sammy Marshall, Chicago Bandits/AJ Andrews, Akron Racers

Jennie Finch Award: Lauren Chamberlain, USSSA Pride
     (The collegiate home run queen was named the Jennie Finch award recipient, signifying leadership and humility on and off the field.)

Rawlings Gold Glove: AJ Andrews, Akron Racers
     (Andrews was named the first-ever female Gold Glove recipient; with a tight battle of some stellar glovework among the other finalists, Andrews' SportsCenter-worthy diving catches and athletic plays likely put her over the top to take home the hardware.)

Coaching Staff of the Year: USSSA Pride
     (Led by Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda with a staff that consisted of Mississippi State assistant Samantha Ricketts and Jeff Ellison, as well as recently-retired players Megan Willis and Andrea Duran in various roles, the Pride easily took home the regular-season title despite the retirement of ace pitcher Cat Osterman following last season.)

All-NPF Team:
The NPF version of the All-Star roster, the squad broke down with a single representative from the Pennsylvania Rebellion; two representatives from the two Texas squads, the Scrap Yard Dawgs and the Dallas Charge; three Chicago Bandits; four Akron Racers; and seven members of the regular-season champion USSSA Pride rounded out the squad. The full all-NPF roster is below.

The left side of the Racers' infield were both named to the squad, while three members of the Pride pitching staff earned honors at their positions... Pride closer Jordan Taylor earned a nomination despite having just thirty-eight innings pitched on the season... despite missing the playoffs, the Dallas Charge placed their finest stars on the squad. Pitcher Lauren Haeger, the only pitcher other than Abbott to amass a triple-digit inning count during the regular season, and rookie outfielder Taylor Gadbois (.331/.382/.364) both earned at-large nods... Despite earning the #2 seed in the championship series, the Scrap Yard Dawgs only placed two players on the all-star squad, further putting into focus Abbott's influence on the team's success.

2016 All-NPF Roster:
Catcher: Griffin Joiner, Racers
First Base: Alisa Goler, Rebellion
Second Base: Nerissa Myers, Dawgs
Third Base: Kelley Montalvo, Racers
Shortstop: Sami Fagan, Racers
Outfield: Kelly Kretschman, Pride
OutfieldMegan Wiggins, Pride
OutfieldTaylor Schlopy, Racers
Pitcher: Monica Abbott, Dawgs
PitcherJordan Taylor, Pride
PitcherJolene Henderson, Pride
PitcherKelsey Nunley, Pride
Utility: Taylor Edwards, Bandits
At-Large: Shelby Pendley, Pride
At-LargeTaylor Gadbois, Charge
At-LargeHallie Wilson, Pride
At-LargeJill Barrett, Bandits
At-LargeLauren Haeger, Charge
At-LargeDanielle Zymkowitz, Bandits

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