Beijing Eagles Bring In SEC Standouts for Second Season in NPF

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Beijing Eagles softball team has announced the addition of several Southeastern Conference talents to its 2018 roster, including Brittany Gray from Georgia, Angel Bunner and Victoria Draper from Auburn, and Allie Walljasper from LSU.

Gray, who hails from Greenwood, Indiana and played collegiate softball at the University of Georgia, was the 14th overall pick in the 2018 NPF Draft and was the third draft pick by the Eagles. In 2018, Gray went 16-1 in the circle with 134 strikeouts and a miniscule 0.64 earned run average in 102.1 innings pitched. She threw 12 complete games and shut out seven opponents before suffering a season-ending injury in April and capped her tenure with the Bulldogs with 60 career wins, 126 appearances, 495 strikeouts and 39 complete games. She is only the sixth pitcher in Georgia history to pitch 500 innings.

“Brittany was enjoying an incredible senior campaign at Georgia when a bicep injury cut her senior season short,” Eagles Head Coach Teresa Wilson said. “We are fully supporting her in her recovery from her injury and are so excited for the day she will be able to join us on the field to pursue her professional softball career!”

The Eagles acquired Bunner from USSSA Pride who traded the left-handed pitcher in exchange for the Beijing’s first pick in the first round of the 2019 NPF Draft. Bunner is in her seventh season in an NPF career that has included stops with the Pride, the Carolina Diamonds and the Chicago Bandits. In 2016, the Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania native led the Bandits to the NPF Championship.

Bunner played softball for the Auburn University from 2008-2012. At the time of her graduation, she ranked in the Tigers’ all-time top 10 in earned run average (5th, 2.24), batting average against (5th, .226), wins (5th, 44), saves (T7th, 6) and strikeouts (8tth, 326).

Auburn product Victoria Draper was selected by the Beijing Shougang Eagles in the 2018 National Pro Fastpitch draft. Draper was the Eagles’ fourth pick and the 19th overall pick in the draft.

Draper was a four-year letterwinner for the Tigers and was Auburn’s starting centerfielder in each of the last three seasons. In 2017, she scored a team-high 44 runs, hit a team best .500 with runners in scoring position, and finished the season with 52 hits and a .340 average. This season, the Moulton, Alabama native shattered the school record for stolen bases with 38. She also led the team in batting average (.373), hits (60), runs scored (39) and posted .460 on-base percentage. She closed out her career ranked second all-time in Auburn history in stolen bases (55) and was a 2018NFCA First Team All-Region selection.

“Victoria is the type of player that will bring so much to our organization” Beijing Head Coach Teresa Wilson noted. “Her speed and versatility make her a threat every time she steps up to the plate. She is a student of the game with invaluable SEC and post-season experience. She plays with passion. She absolutely loves the game. Victoria also understands and embraces the example she sets and the leadership role she plays in helping our team grow and gain the confidence they need to play more aggressively.”

With the second overall pick of the 2018 National Pro Fastpitch draft, the Beijing Shougang Eagles selected Louisiana State University product Allie Walljasper.

“Allie brings a wealth of SEC and post-season experience to our pitching staff,” Beijing Head Coach Teresa Wilson said. “Her incredible career at LSU and her desire to become a coach one day have laid the foundation for her to take her game to the professional level! She is a true team player who leads by example! She has great command of her pitches and mixes speeds very well. She is a true combination of power and finesse, and her high pitching IQ helps her take full advantage of that combination.”

Walljasper is a pitcher from Manteca, California and was a three-time All-American with the LSU Tigers. The 6-2 right-hander finished with a 19-7 overall record and a 1.17 earned run average in the circle in 2018 to lead LSU to 45-17 record and an NCAA Super Regional appearance. Her senior campaign saw Walljasper strike out 143 batters in 191 innings of work, while posting seven shutouts, two combined shutouts and one save. She also set LSU and Southeastern Conference records by pitching 19 innings in a victory over Ole Miss on April 6.

Walljasper was also named to the NFCA All-South Region and All-SEC first teams in 2015 and 2017, and garnered second team All-America honors in 2018 after being named to the All-America third team in 2015 and 2017. Walljasper ended her collegiate career with a record of 64-34 and 434 strikeouts in 624.1 innings pitched.

“What Angel, Brittany and our other three draftees bring to our team collectively, is ground-breaking.” Wilson noted. “In a sense, these five women are pioneers. To join an international team with a culture so different from what they have experienced growing up, and to work to bridge that gap while speaking a different language, just adds to the challenge and opportunity these young women have undertaken. I hope they realize that they are pioneers and have the chance to open doors and present opportunities that will benefit future generations of softball players!  They have joined our team with such great attitudes and such open minds to what is possible!

“For all that we hear on social media from those who try to present this in a negative light on the great sport of softball around the world, I would challenge them to look deeper. These draftees don’t see the negative. They see what is possible.  While others try to put up barriers, these draftees are building friendships and relationships that will facilitate growth in our sport around the world.  I am so proud of them and what they are bringing to our Eagles organization! We are happy to have them in our Eagles family!”

The Beijing Shougang Eagles became the sixth affiliate team of the NPF in 2016. The team, which is managed by the Chinese Softball Association (CSA), is playing its second season of competition in 2018 with its home base at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

About National Pro Fastpitch

National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004 provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2018 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.



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