ROSEMONT, III. – The Chicago Bandits sign No.1 overall pick Kelly Barnhill to a 1-year contract, team officials announced on Thursday morning.
The University of Florida pitcher was one of the top competitors in all of NCAA Division I softball. Barnhill’s ERA this season was 1.61 and currently ranks first in career ERA (0.92) and strikeouts per seven innings (11.52) among all active NCAA softball players.
“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,” Bandits head coach Lauren Lappin said. “She’s going to be able to do things in the pro league to really elevate her game. We’re excited about adding her to our group. 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. We can’t wait to see what Kelly is going to do in our league.”
Barnhill was named 2017 USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Year, Honda Sports Award winner, ESPNw Player of the Year and also won an ESPY for Best Female Collegiate Athlete. This past season in 2018, she was a top-four finalist for the Honda Sports Award and USA Softball Player of the Year.
The Georgia native is also a two-time NFCA First Team All-American, two-time SEC Pitcher of the Year, a nine-time SEC Pitcher of the Week, and a five-time national player/pitcher of the week winner. On top of all the individual honors, Barnhill ranks in eight of UF’s all-time career top 10 pitching categories and is the NCAA career leader in ERA and strikeouts per seven innings pitched.
Barnhill and the Gators ended the season at 49-18, where they were eliminated from the WCWS with a 15-3 loss to Alabama.
The four-time Cowles Cup champion Chicago Bandits will be back at Parkway Bank Sports Complex for the 2019 season. For more information about the Chicago Bandits or to reserve your season tickets, please visit chicagobandits.com or call the box office at 877-722-6348.
ABOUT CHICAGO BANDITS
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of the National Pro Fastpitch league. Entering their 15th season as a franchise, the Bandits have provided the Chicago area with high-level softball talent and entertainment en route to capturing six regular-season titles and four Cowles Cup championships, the most recent coming during the 2016 campaign. Located in Rosemont, the Bandits play at Parkway Bank Sports Complex, one of the premier softball facilities in the nation. Parkway Bank Sports Complex is the only stadium in the country built exclusively for a women’s professional sports team. The Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch softball players to further their careers at the professional level and have included legendary figures such as Jennie Finch, Tammy Williams and Stacy May-Johnson.