NORMAN – All four former Sooners playing in the National Pro Fastpitch League are in contention for the Cowles Cup Trophy this weekend as Championship Series Week begins Friday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The USSSA Pride, featuring Lauren Chamberlain, Shelby Pendley and Keilani Ricketts, earned the No. 1 overall seed and will face the fourth-seeded Akron Racers in a best-of-three series starting Friday at 7 p.m. CT, while Michelle Gascoigne and the Chicago Bandits grabbed the No. 3 seed and meet the Scrap Yard Dawgs in the other best-of-three semifinal beginning Friday at 5 p.m. CT.
The winners of the semifinals will move on to play for the Cowles Cup Trophy in another best-of-three that begins Sunday. The top four teams in the six-team league qualified for the Championship Series.
CBS Sports Network will carry all scheduled games live, except for the Pride’s game Friday vs. Akron. That game, and any other “if necessary” games, will be shown on NPFTV.
USSSA earned the No. 1 seed by posting a 37-13 record, winning the regular season crown by seven games over the Scrap Yard Dawgs (29-19). Chicago finished third with a 23-25 record, followed by Akron (22-28), Dallas (20-30) and Pennsylvania (17-33).
The reigning NPF Rookie of the Year, Pendley finished the regular season eighth in the league in batting average at .351, was third in RBI with 34, tied for fourth with 52 hits and came in fifth with 88 total bases. Starting all 50 games, Pendley also recorded nine doubles, nine home runs, 30 runs scored, 29 walks to 21 strikeouts and seven stolen bases. She slugged .595 and had a .459 on-base percentage.
Serving primarily as the team’s designated player, Chamberlain appeared in 43 games with 39 starts during the regular season. She finished fourth on the team with eight home runs and third with 22 walks. Chamberlain got off to a slow start with just three hits in her first 30 at-bats (.100) but turned it around by finishing the year with 20 hits in her final 78 at-bats (.256). She posted a .472 slugging percentage and .344 OBP to go along with two doubles, one triple and 22 runs batted in.
Showcasing the talent level on the pitching staff for USSSA, Ricketts finished eighth in the league, but fifth on the team, in earned run average as she sported a 2.64 ERA over a team-high 79.2 innings this year. She struck out 79 batters to rank fifth in the NPF and was 6-5 on the year with a .235 average against and just 13 walks issued. She appeared in 18 games with 11 starts and tossed one complete game while combining on three shutouts.
Pitching for the defending champion Bandits, Gascoigne finished the regular season 11th in the NPF and first on the team with a 2.96 ERA. Like Ricketts, Gascoigne also led her squad in innings with 75.2 innings pitched. En route to a 5-4 record, she struck out 72 against 35 walks and held opponents to a .252 average. Over 21 appearances she made eight starts and threw five complete games while adding six saves.