1-13-2011 January 13 update

JANUARY 13 2011 UPDATE

OLYMPIC STARS OPT OUT OF USA SOFTBALL

As reported by the Associated Press and USA Today

CLEVELAND (AP) — Jessica Mendoza traveled the world playing tournaments and in two Olympics

for the powerful U.S. softball team. That decade-long journey, for now, is over.

Mendoza, a two-time Olympic medalist, and seven of her teammates from the 2008 Beijing Games,

will not play for Team USA this year, opting to play professionally instead in hopes of growing a sport

 dropped from the Olympic program.”I never imagined this would be how I would leave USA Softball,”

Mendoza said Wednesday in a phone interview from her home in California. “I hope it’s not the end.”

Mendoza said she and the others informed Amateur Softball Association of America this month that

they were declining invitations to attend the U.S. team’s June camp so they can play exclusively in the

four-team National Pro Fastpitch league.  Mendoza, who is also president of the Women’s Sports

 Foundation, said it became too difficult for players to fulfill the obligation of playing for the U.S. team

and in the NPF, whose schedules intersect. Moreover, because the U.S. Olympic Committee has dropped

funding — over $1 million in an Olympic year — for softball, there was no financial reward for playing for

their country.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Mendoza, adding that she and her teammates spent months

discussing their options. “In the end, we all wanted to do the best thing for the sport of softball. Everyone

agreed that a change really needed to be made.”

Fellow Olympians Natasha Watley, Cat Osterman, Monica Abbott, Caitlin Lowe, Lauren Lappin, Andrea

Duran and Vicky Galindo also will not play for the U.S. during the upcoming 2011 season. That doesn’t

 mean some of them may not return in the future. Ron Radigonda, executive director of ASA/USA Softball,

said the U.S. program went through a similar turnover in 2001 when several players left to play professionally.

He’s disappointed Team USA is losing its nucleus, but that doesn’t change his commitment to fielding and

funding teams for international competition. “This was their decision and we support it,” Radigonda said.

“These women are very near and dear to us. But we look at this as an opportunity to rebuild the program.

 … We have married players who need to make a living. We can’t fault anybody for that.”

Olympic softball sustained a devastating hit when it was voted off the program for the London Games in 2012.

Last year, a bid to get it back in 2016 was rejected when the IOC voted in golf and rugby for the Rio Olympics.

 Softball was on the program from 1996-2008, with the U.S. team winning three gold medals and a silver.

While the sport’s popularity has grown worldwide, helped by the American team’s success and the appeal

of cross-over star pitcher Jennie Finch, it’s still lacking support in Europe, where the IOC’s membership has

 long associated it with baseball.  Mendoza’s hope is that a strong pro league with more teams and featuring

some of the game’s biggest names can attract a wider audience, sponsors and, perhaps most importantly,

television revenues.

Mendoza said part of her choice to focus on playing professionally stemmed from talks with tennis legend

Billie Jean King, whose decision in the 1970s to leave the U.S. tour and start the Virginia Slims circuit prompted

the growth of women’s tennis here and abroad.  Mendoza said King encouraged her to take softball on

a similar, unknown path.

“No one knows what will happen,” Mendoza said. “But what we all want is what’s best for softball, and

for its future.”Editor’s note:  When USA Softball announced late last year that it would hold tryouts in 2011 for a new women’s national team, SPY heard unofficially that USA Softball had told current team members they would have to choose between USA and NPF.  Given that USA Softball does not have a dedicated budget fro 2011, there has been widespread anticipation that many of the current stars would choose NPF.  Note that NPF once had teams in eight other cities than their current group of four and has not yet announced an expansion plan for 2011.  Also note that USA Softball used a large roster of players during 2010, in addition to the Olympic/NPF players, so USA can field a team with international experience.  USA Softball won’t have internationally regarded pitchers like Osterman and Abbott, or Finch who has retired, but it should be credible against most if not all opponents.  rfh

NPF RELEASES 2011 SCHEDULE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2010
 
Nashville – National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) League Commissioner Cheri Kempf announced today the schedule for the upcoming 2011 Season. 

Four Teams will again compete in the 2011 Season; Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, NPF Diamonds, and USSSA Florida Pride. Each team in the League will play a 40-game regular season schedule with all teams playing 5 home and 5 away series.

The 2011 season will begin on Thursday, June 9th with the defending 2010 Cowles Cup Champions, USSSA Florida Pride, taking on the defending 2010 Regular Season Champions, Chicago Bandits, as a rematch to the 2010 Championship Series Game.  The NPF Diamonds will travel to Akron, OH to play the Racers in the other season opening series. The regular season will finish on August 14th prior to the NPF Championship Series, which begins on August 18th.

The Chicago Bandits, the defending 3-peat Champions of the Regular Season Ringor Cup, will open 2011 NPF action in a brand new, six million dollar stadium in Rosemont, IL.  “With consistency, passion, and a new home (Rosemont), we hope to continue our winning ways,” Chicago Bandits Owner Bill Sokolis.  “We are really proud of the back to back to back regular season championships. We take the regular season pretty serious; in any sport, at any level to repeat as many times as we have is tremendous.” 

The USSSA Florida Pride will combine a couple of locations into their home venues this year hosting home series’ at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports as well as Osceola County Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Houston Astros.  “Venues such as these are MLB approved stadiums and are well suited to professional fastpitch softball, both the players and our fans deserve the best we have to offer. We look forward to a very successful and competitive season.  We are proud of what the Pride accomplished last season and look forward to defending our 2010 NPF Cowles Cup in 2011,” stated Don DeDonatis General Manager of the Pride.

The Akron Racers will also be showcasing new stadium features in 2011 as they add an addition to Firestone Stadium in the form of a Players Plaza providing an expanded entrance to the Stadium, a Clubhouse, and batting cages. “We are very excited about our 2011 Firestone Stadium enhancements.  The Players Plaza, Arc Clubhouse and outdoor batting cages will honor, serve, and invite more fastpitch fans to our historic facility,” stated Joey Arrietta, GM of the Akron Racers.

The NPF will add an exciting new element this year in regular season play as one team is committed entirely to off-site venues. The NPF Diamonds will play each of their 5 home series at a separate and unique venue, enabling the NPF to share League action with fans in cities where franchises do not currently exist. “The NPF Diamonds will fill a void in America for many fastpitch softball fans who do not currently have a franchise in their area. This is a concept we have discussed for the last couple of years. Once we experienced the excitement of fastpitch softball fans throughout the 20 stops of the NPF/USSSA Back to School Tour, we knew we had to make it happen in 2011,” stated Commissioner Kempf.
 
The National Pro Fastpitch League streamed over 80 games on MLB.com in 2010.  Live streaming action will again be available in 2011. The regular season standings will crown the Ringor Cup Champions.  All four teams will play in the NPF Championship Series. NPF Championship Series plans are currently being finalized and details will be announced shortly. Dates for the 2011 Championship Series are August 18th-21st. Additional information on each team’s schedule can be found by navigating to www.profastpitch.com or individual team sites.

Akron Racers – www.akronracers.org
Chicago Bandits – www.chicagobandits.com
USSSA Florida Pride – www.usssapride.com
NPF Diamonds – www.tn-diamonds.com

COMMITMENTS

Kristen Miles, 2012, IF, Plano High, Texas Glory, has verbally committed to Louisiana Tech

 

NEW JERSEY BREAKERS GOLD

2011

Katherine Berk       signed College of Charleston

Francesca Carrullo signed St Johns University

Eve Clausen          signed  Hartford University

Cassie Girvalo       signed  Holy Cross

Meghan Hayes      signed  Holy Cross

Chandler Howard   signed  Rutgers University

Alicia Keough        signed  University of Pittsburgh

Julia Kuhn             signed  Northwestern University

Mackenzie Liss     signed  Penn State University

Macie McGeehan  signed  Towsan University

Jessica Minix        signed  DePaul University

Caitlin Mohen        signed  University of Wisconsin

Allison Patierno     signed  University of South Florida

Alex Pizzoli          signed  College of Charleston

Emily Potere         signed  Siena College

Jessica Rappe      signed  Virginia Tech

Kayla Soles          signed  University of Louisville

Dani Todaro          signed  Rider University

Alex Wells           signed  Bucknell University

2012

Erin Gabriel          verbal University of Tennessee

Valerie Cassell     verbal College of Charleston

Melanie Kalesse   verbal Siena College

 

CONDOLENCES:  Khristin Kyllo

The Princeton freshman shortstop, who played in Virginia for the Shamrocks for two years, and for the Vienna Stars, passed away last night.  The University issued this statement:

“Freshman Khristin Kyllo of Vienna, Va., died Jan. 13 in her Forbes College dorm room apparently of natural causes. She was 18.

Kyllo was found by officers with the University’s Department of Public Safety, who received a call from a Forbes resident shortly after 8 a.m. Princeton Borough Police and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad responded after receiving a call from public safety.

In a message to the campus community, Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman said, “I know I speak for our entire University community when I extend my heartfelt sympathy to Khristin’s family, friends and classmates. When faced with unexpected and untimely losses such as this, we must look to one another for strength and comfort, while reaching out to those whose grief is greatest. Let us also celebrate the many ways in which Khristin made our campus a better place to learn and live, as well as all that she accomplished in her short but vibrant life.”

A memorial service will be held on campus at a later date, but the Office of the Dean of Religious Life will host a gathering at 8 p.m. Jan. 13 in Murray-Dodge Hall for students and other members of the campus community who wish to reflect on Kyllo’s life, and share their memories of her.

Kyllo was a member of Princeton’s softball team. She came to Princeton from James Madison High School, where she was a noted athlete on the basketball and softball teams and graduated in 2010.

She is survived by her parents, Thomas Kyllo and Julie Kyllo, and her younger brother, Tommy Kyllo.”

Tony Rollins, the Stars coach, posted this note:  “Today is a very sad day. I just recently learned that Khristin Kyllo has passed away. I am having great difficulty finding the words to express my feelings. Khristin played for me for 5 years, she had a very competitive and infectious spirit on the ball field. Khristin epitomized the type of player I was trying to get all of the girls to become, she was a true Vienna Star helping the 2005 12u Team to a record of 86-7-2 and a 7th place finish at ASA Nationals. Khristin was a freshman at Princeton University living her dream of playing colligate softball. I share a special bond with all of my girls and am deeply saddened today having lost one of my girls. Please give your girl a hug for me and say a prayer for Khristin and her family.”

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