LOWELL, Mass. (May 31, 2004) The New England Riptide dont play your fathers slow pitch, barroom league softball. They are the best of the best women professional softball players, officially opening the inaugural National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league season tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 1) against the New York/New Jersey Juggernaut at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, New Jersey.
The Riptide, owned by Joe and Lauri Adlman, of Andover (MA), start their 60-game season with their first 12 games on the road before their June 16 home opener against the California Sunbirds at Martin Field, Lowell.
New York Yankees great and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in the Juggernaut-Riptide season-opener. Two-time Olympic gold medal winning pitcher/first baseman Michele Smith (Oklahoma State), who played for New England Riptide manager Ralph Raymond on the 1996 & 2000 Team USA champions, leads the Juggernauts.
Right-handed pitchers Jocelyn Forest, Megan Matthews and Dana Sorensen, along with newly signed southpaw Leigh An Ellis, give The Riptide a strong pitching staff. Forest pitched Cal Berkeley to its first national softball title in the 2002 NCAA World Series, completing the post season with a perfect 8-0 record, capped by a championship game victory against defending champion Arizona. Her catcher at Stanford was Courtney Scott, who now plays for the NY/NJ Juggernaut. Matthews was a two-time Div. 1 All-American pitcher for the University of South Carolina in 1998 and 1999. Sorensen, recently named a 2004 Div. 1 All-American, hurled Stanford to the College World Series, posting a 34-11 record with a 1.41 ERA and 358 strikeouts in 303 innings pitched. Ellis was also named to the 2004 Div. 1 All-American team. She posted back-to-back single season records at South Florida for most wins with 34 last season and 43 this year.
The infield has been strengthened by the recent additions of All-American shortstop Tara Knudsen, of Georgia Tech, Illinois State first baseman Emily Krueger, and Stanford catcher Jessica Allister. Knudsen led Georgia Tech this past season in all offensive categories, holds six school single-season records, and graduates as the Yellow Jackets and ACC career home run champion (46). Krueger batted .392 for the Redbirds and led the team in nearly every category, including single season school and Missouri Valley Conference records for most home runs with 18. Allister caught Sorensen all season at Stanford and was named second team All-American. She led the Cardinals this season with most home runs (12) and RBI (55), along with a .345 batting average.
Rounding out the infield are Arizona State second baseman Nichole Thompson, Missouri third baseman Rachael McGinnis, and Maine catcher Sara Jewett, of Haverhill (MA), who also will play in the outfield when not behind the plate. Thompson was a member of the 2004 U.S. Elite Team that captured the prestigious Canada Cup. McGinnis, third-team All-American selection in 2003, holds the Missouri all-time career high batting average at .364. Jewett holds 10 school records at Maine and she also played for national champ Stratford (CT) Brakettes. Sara was a four-time America East selection and its Player of the Year in 2000.
Patrolling the outfield are Virginia right-fielder Meg Young, Shrewsbury (MA), Auburns Ashley Moore, LSU centerfielder LaDonia Hughes, Kentuckys Lyndsey Angus, of Leominster (MA).
Young started and played in every inning for four years at Virginia, where she was an All-ACC player and holds school records for most career games played (261), hits (285), at-bats (881), total bases (408), runs (149), doubles (51), triples (24) and stolen bases (51). In 2001, Moore became Auburn Universitys first softball All-American player, where she set 15 school records, including the single-season home run mark of 17 in her senior season and career hits (261). Hughes was a second-team All-American this past season. She batted .350, scored 53 runs and stole 28 bases, increasing her total amount of thefts to 52 in two seasons. Angus, a valuable utility player, was a three-time Southeastern Conference all-star at the University of Kentucky, leading the SEC in batting with a .429 average in conference play.
Raymond, of Worcester, is one of the most celebrated managers in softball history having guided Team USA to gold-medal performances in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. His longtime assistant, Shirley Topley, and Burlington High head coach Mary McGinn, are members of his coaching staff.
National Pro Fastpitch is comprised of six teams: New England Riptide
, New York/New Jersey Juggernaut
(Upper Montclair, NJ), California Sunbirds
(Stockton), Texas Thunder
(Houston), Akron Racers
, and Arizona Heat
New England Riptide season tickets are priced at $175 for 30 home games. Four-game Flex-Packs are $28.00 and individual games only $8.00. All seating is general admission at Martin Field. Go to www.neriptide.com
or call 866-4RIPTIDE to purchase non-group rate tickets. Sponsorship and advertising opportunities also are available.
Full Court Press