WPSL ALL-STARS SHINE AT NSA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS EXHIBITION
Pros win exhibition 13-1
Saturday, July 20, 2002
By Kelley Smiddie, Staff Writer, ChattanoogaNow | Chattanooga Times Free Press
Former University of Arizona softball All-American Nancy Evans is no stranger to Chattanooga, but Friday (June 19th) was her first chance to play inside Frost Stadium.
“This is a very nice facility,” said Evans, whose California Thunder team won the Amateur Softball Association 16-under national championship in Chattanooga. She also competed in Chattanooga as a member of the Gordon Panthers in the ASA 18-under national. “It’s a great field, too.”
Evans singled, walked and scored twice in the Women’s Professional Softball League All-Stars’ 13-1 victory over the Tennessee All-Stars before a crowd of 694.
The WPSL exhibitions were a precursor to the National Softball Association’s A Division Eastern World Series, which started Sunday, June 21st. The WPSL is also seeking prospective cities for its league. Representatives from various cities such as Akron, Ohio and Tucson, Ariz., threw ceremonial first pitches.
“I didn’t know Chattanooga’s reputation as a softball city the first time I came here,” said Evans, who is from Glendale, Calif. “When I came back the next year I realized Chattanooga is a big softball town. I think it would be a good host for a professional team. It seems like there’s a lot of support for softball in this city.”
“I enjoy playing the game,” said Evans, who was part of three NCAA championship teams and was chosen player of the year as a senior in 1998. “It’s fun playing with great athletes I played with or against in college. Representing the WPSL is a great honor.
“A lot of athletes hope the league continues to grow. After college, there’s nothing much left for softball players, other than the Olympics. We don’t peak until we’re 27 or 28 and you’re finished with your college career around 22. This gives women a chance to continue playing and make a little money, too.”
The WPSL All-Stars held a general-skills clinic Friday morning at Warner Park. Perhaps a few of those athletes will aspire to follow the footsteps of someone like Evans.
“There’s a lot of talent out there,” Evans said. “Some of the girls at the clinic impressed me a lot. Some were the type players with the potential to play in a professional league one day. There’s no limitations, especially with all the indoor facilities now. It takes dedication, hard work and love of the game. There’s nothing to stop you, but it takes effort.”
Catcher Julie Marshall was the catalyst in the WPSL All-Stars’ win. She homered twice, doubled, walked, drove in six runs and scored three.
“I was really excited about playing because I haven’t played in a while,” Marshall said. “I was just trying to kind of do my thing and have fun.”
Marshall’s first homer was a line drive to left-center in the third inning and she added a shot to center in the fifth. The dimensions at Frost Stadium, 195 feet down the lines and 220 to center, are the same as the field at UCLA where she hit 45 career home runs.
“What I do before I step in the box is take a deep breath and try to clear my thoughts,” Marshall said. “I may take several deep breaths. When I’m relaxed I see the ball better.”
The Tennessee All-Stars didn’t give the 694 fans a great deal to cheer about, with the exception of the double play that ended the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded, center fielder Paige Cochrane made a running catch near the fence, relayed to second baseman Dana Reed, who threw to catcher Brooke Randolph.
“I didn’t think I had a chance at all, but I kept running after it and I caught it,” Cochrane said. “Actually, after I threw it to Dana I couldn’t see what happened. But, I knew it had to be a double play when the crowd went crazy. The best part of making a play like that was hearing the roar of the crowd. That was awesome.”
LeeAnne Mongar, Brooke Randolph, Lindsay Phillips and Stephanie Humphreys had hits off winning pitcher Becky Lemke, who walked two and struck out seven.
WPSL All-Stars 7, Tennessee All-Stars 1
Sunday, July 21, 2002
By Kelley Smiddie, Staff Writer
The Women’s Professional Softball League All-Stars defeated the Tennessee All-Stars 7-1 in Saturday’s (June 20) exhibition game at Frost Stadium.
The game was tied at 1 after five innings and the Tennessee team had six hits while starter Jennifer Wright had limited the WPSL to three. The WPSL ended with a 9-8 advantage in hits.
“I thought she threw the ball awfully well, well enough to win the ballgame,” Tennessee All-Stars coach Chris Williams said. “I think we played them toe-to-toe into the sixth inning. They outhit us by one, but at the time we were outhitting them.”
Wright, a freshman at Alabama last season, will now focus her attention on the NSA tournament. She plays for Williams and the Chattanooga Eagles.
“It was fun,” Wright said. “I hadn’t thrown much from 43 feet lately, playing 18-under ball (40 feet). There was good support here. It’s always fun playing in front of a crowd.”
Saturday’s game drew 2,280.
“What an atmosphere,” Williams said. “This was softball I know the WPSL would like to see all the time.”
With singles in each of her first two at-bats Saturday, the WPSL’s Julie Marshall reached safely in her first six plate appearances over two days. She finished 5-for-7 with two home runs, a double and a walk, drove in six runs and scored five.
Jill Crawford, who did not play in Friday’s game, doubled twice for the Tennessee All-Stars. Dana Reed singled in their run in the fifth. LeeAnne Mongar and Brooke Randolph had a hit in each game.
If there was one area where the Tennessee All-Stars excelled the last two days it was on double plays. The first two outs Saturday occurred when Wright, shortstop Crawford and first baseman Mongar turned one and Mongar later turned a line drive into an unassisted double play.