As it begins its 15th season the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league kicked things off with their annual draft and the University of Washington Huskies saw another member join the professional ranks. While most of the 25 draft picks were east of the Mississippi the Pacific Northwest was one of three states west of the river that heard a familiar name called for Husky softball fans.
Washington senior pitcher Taran Alvelo was the eighth pick overall as the Aussie Peppers made Alvelo their pick.
Alvelo, who’s from Ohio, will be heading back to the Midwest to play for the Peppers who to Mankato, Minnesota.
The NPF has six teams playing including teams filled with many out of country players.
The returning champion USSSA Pride in Florida, Chicago Bandits, Rosemont, IL, Beijing Shogun Eagles, Daytona Beach, FL, Cleveland Comets, Cleveland, OH, Canadian Wild, Southern IL and the Peppers.
“The draft is such a special event for us. It’s our group together in a non-competitive environment in terms of play. I’m also a fan of college softball, so I love knowing these players are thrilled to hear their names called. For all of softball, it’s very special,” said NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf on the website.
The Chicago Bandits had the first pick of the 2019 draft and as Commissioner Kempf read off the names throughout the event the first one she called was pitcher Kelly Barnhill of the Florida Gators.
Barnhill was SEC pitcher of the year and a two time All-American. She became the first player from Florida to go number one in the draft.
“We really had to think about who we just couldn’t stand missing out on, and Kelly Barnhill is a special pitcher. She’s the best pitcher coming out of college,” said Bandits head coach Lauren Lappin on the NPF website. “She’s going to be able to do things in the pro league to really elevate her game. We’re excited about adding her. She’s performed on the highest level of the college game, so when it came down to it, she was a no-brainer for us to grab at No.1.”
The second pick and third picks were taken by the USSSA Pride who have been a part of the league for 11 years and their GM Don Dedonatis said a main part of their purpose has always been to grow the game.
The Pride used their number two pick to take utility player, also from the Florida, Amanda Lorenz who was the 2018 SEC player of the year. Lorenz is a three time All-American and considered by many to be the best hitter in the nation.
With their third pick the Pride completed their second set of sisters to be on their roster when they chose Oklahoma Sooner infielder Sydney Romero who joins her sister Sierra on the team. USSSA also have sisters Nicole and Shelby Pendley to complete the pair.
Romero was a 2018 first team All-American.
The fourth pick went to the Chicago Bandits who chose Georgia Bulldog infielder Alyssa DiCarlo a 2018 NFCA All-America, 3-time All SEC and is the All Time home run record holder at Georgia.
The Cleveland Comets completed the first round with the fifth pick.
The Comets chose LSU Tiger infielder Amanda Sanchez who played four years at Missouri, including a red-shirt year, before transferring to LSU. She was a 2018 SEC All Defense choice and is currently hitting.470.
The Comets stayed on the clock for the sixth pick and they took Arizona Wildcat pitcher Taylor McQuillin. McQuillin is currently eighth in Pac-12 strikeouts.
Playing in their third season in the NPF the Beijing Shogun Eagles, GM Yang Liu and head coach Hunter Veach, made the seventh pick taking Auburn Tiger utility player Kendall Veach.
Kendall Veach hit 30+ career home runs. The Eagles will play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
Then it was Alvelo’s turn to hear her name as the Peppers made her their eighth pick. The team moved to Mankato, MN this year.
The Bandits made Oklahoma infielder Caleigh Clifton the ninth pick. Clifton is hitting .430 and is a three-time All Big 12 player.
The tenth and final pick of the second round was made by the Pride who took pitcher/utility player from James Madison University Megan Good.
Good owns career records for most wins, shutouts, games started, complete games and innings pitched.
The Canadian Wild, a team from Canada who will be based in Southern Illinois did not draft but will have a local player heading back out onto the diamond in former Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie-Locke.
Lawrie-Locke is seeking a comeback and looking ahead for the chance to make the Canadian National team with softball returning to the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.
Lawrie-Locke was a four time All-American with the Huskies and a two-time Collegiate Player of the Year as she led Washington to the 2009 NCAA National Championship. She also has the distinction of being the only player in program history to have her number (15) retired.
The Wild also include former Huskies infielder Jennifer Salling (’11) and outfielder Victoria Hayward (’14). Former Washington infielder Courtney Gano (’16) is with Chicago.
“It’s a new road. The pitchers are going to have to learn to pitch against a very dense line-up and experienced line-up,” said Kempf on the website, who said maturity is a strength in the league. “They have to get used to that and settle in. It’s interesting and fun to watch.”
The NPF starts their new season at 6:30 pm (ET) on Tuesday, May 28 when the Canadian Wild head to Daytona to face the Beijing at Jackie Robinson Park.