NASHVILLE, Tenn. – March 31, 2014 - Stuart Williams, owner of the Pennsylvania Rebellion, the newest franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League loved spending a weekend seeing the sights in the Music City. He is bringing home some souvenirs not available in any gift store.
Williams had six picks for the Rebellion, more than any other team, in the 2014 NPF Draft Monday night at the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The event was presented by Bownet.
He chose Arizona State right-handed pitcher Dallas Escobedo as the first player picked. Williams was just as impressed with the intangibles that Escobedo brings as he is her statistics on the mound.
“Everything was very exciting for us,” Williams said. “Nashville is a wonderful city. We came down here Saturday and spent a lot of time seeing everything here as quickly as we could.
“It all culminated with our naming Dallas Escobedo as our first pick and everything else that was part of this wonderful event. We are thrilled.”
Williams stressed that when you look at players what they do on the field is important but their lives off the field also have an effect on their performance.
“We did our homework with all of this,” Williams. Pennsylvania is a hotbed of softball. It is the third largest area in the country with young women playing the game. So we knew about Dallas.
“In high school she was hit by a pitch in the first inning of a game and went on to strikeout 16 or 17. She comes from a good strong family. She has had the right kind of support. We feel like we drafted a family.”
Escobedo was one of three pitchers selected by the Rebellion.
“We have found out in this league that you need five pitchers, maybe six,” Williams said. “We were looking for at least three pitchers in the draft. We picked the three that we wanted badly.”
An enthusiastic sellout crowd of 300 was on hand to watch the draft in person.
There were five rounds with a total of 20 players selected. All of the players selected are involved in their seasons and were not able to attend.
Three players were selected from Washington and two from Arizona State.
Three of the first four selections were pitchers. Pitching was the theme for the evening with eight selected. Six infielders, four outfielders and two catchers rounded out the picks.
Madison Shipman, a shortstop with the University of Tennessee, was the first position player selected at No. 2 by the USSSA Pride.
Don DeDonatis, chairman of the board and CEO of the Pride, had no doubts about his selection.
“That was our pick from the start,” DeDonatis said. “We have watched her. She is talented.
“She is the best athlete. We believe she is a five-tool player. She can play the game. She is hardnosed. She is going to fit in with the rest of our team.”
Due to previous trades the Pride only had three picks in the draft.
The Akron Racers made Hannah Campbell, a left-handed pitcher from South Alabama, as the No. 3 pick in the first round.
The Chicago Bandits, the defending NPF Regular Season Champions, made the fourth and final selection of the first round choosing Arizona pitcher Estela Pinon, a right-hander.
In the second round the Bandits were at the podium first and chose another pitcher, Sara Moulton, a right-hander from Minnesota.
The Pride added another infielder in the second round with the selection of Courtney Ceo from Oregon at No. 6.
The Racers chose Notre Dame’s Laura Winter, a right-handed pitcher, with the seventh pick.
Nebraska catcher Taylor Edwards was the eighth pick for the Rebellion.
The Rebellion added its second pitcher of the draft to open the third round, choosing Bryana Walker from Washington.
With the 10th pick Akron selected Jennifer Gilbert from Ball State, the first outfielder selected.
The Pride also chose an outfielder at No. 11 with the selection of Alexa Peterson from Oregon.
Emily Allard, an outfielder-utility player at Northwestern, was chosen by the Bandits with the last pick of the third round.
Infielder Cheyenne Coyle from Arizona State was picked by the Bandits to open the fourth round at No. 13.
Akron had both the 14th and 15th selections. At 14th the Racers chose Washington pitcher Kaitlin Inglesby. At No. 15 they added Tulsa infielder Jill Barrett.
The Rebellion closed out the fourth round with a pitcher, Anna Miller, a right-hander from USC Upstate.
In the fifth and final round the Rebellion made the 17th and 19th selections choosing catcher-first baseman Nicole Morgan from Texas A &M and Washington outfielder Victoria Hayward respectively.
Akron’s final pick at No. 18 was infielder Ashley Thomas from Georgia Tech.
With the final pick of the draft Chicago chose outfielder R.T. Cantillo from the University of Mississippi.
“This is the second year we have been in Nashville with the draft and the first time it sold out,” NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf said. “It was on us to get the word out and make sure everyone was aware of it. We have been sold out for a couple of weeks. We had a lot of people on the waiting list.
“People love softball. This is still a growing sport the grassroots level. College softball and ESPN have had an impact. You can just feel the enthusiasm. We want young girls who play softball to be able to dream of being professionals just like young boys do. That is our mantra.”
2014 NPF Draft Order
About National Pro Fastpitch
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.