Former Golden Bears Represented in the Championship Series of the National Pro Fastpitch League
Aug. 21, 2008
Berkeley - Former California softball players Kristina Thorson (Chicago Bandits), Emily Friedman and Chelsea Spencer (Philadelphia Force) and Alex Sutton, Jocelyn Forest and Lisa Iancin of the New England Riptide will all be competing for the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch League crown, Aug. 22-24 in Kimberly, Wis.
After three months of competition and nearly 300 games league-wide, the Bandits, Force, Riptide and Washington Glory comprise the four-team bracket.
A three-time All-American at Cal, Thorson recently joined Chicago in an off-season trade with the Philadelphia Force. She is 4-5 in the circle this season with a 2.92 ERA in 67.2 innings of work, including six complete games. Thorson earned NPF Rookie of the Year honors with Philadelphia in 2007.
Friedman, who is hitting .286 for Philadelphia this season, is in her third year with the Force. In 2007 she played and started in all 44 games and registered personal bests in runs (11) and hits (26). She played at Cal from 2004-06 and earned all-conference honors her senior season.
A four-year veteran in the NPF, Spencer is hitting .276 with 28 runs and four home runs for Philadelphia this season. In 2007, Spencer was named an All-NPF selection and led the Force in batting, hits, at-bats, runs and triples. She played at Cal from 2002-05 and earned All-America honors in 2004.
New England, which boasts three former Bears, are led by Forest, who has been the mainstay of the Riptide pitching staff since joining the club in its inception in 2004. Her 43 career wins and 409 strikeouts are the most in NPF history. She was instrumental in leading the Riptide to its first NPF championship in 2006 posting a 15-5 record and 1.29 ERA, and added two more wins in the championship series, pitching 16 scoreless innings including a shutout of the Connecticut Brakettes in the series final. The performance earned her the Championship Series MVP award. In 2005 Forest split her time between the Riptide and the U.S. Elite team, still managing a 9-4 record with the Riptide and winning the prestigious Canada Cup with the Elite team. Forest led Cal to its first NCAA Championship in 2002 by compiling a 4-0 record and a 0.50 ERA in the WCWS.
Sutton, who joined New England in 2007, is known for error-free play in the outfield and has the notable distinction of hitting the longest ball ever at Martin Softball Field unofficially measuring well over 300 feet over the right field score board. Sutton played for the Bears from 2004-07 and earned all-conference honors her senior year.
Widely known as one of the best defensive second basemen to ever play in the NPF, Iancin won the NPF Defensive Player of the Year award in 2005 and continued her almost flawless play in 2006 and 2007. In addition to being a member of the 2006 NPF Champion Riptide, Iancin also won the league championship title in 2004 with the NY/NJ Juggernaut. In 2003, she played with the NPF All-Star team, leading the team with a .400 batting average, while hitting .500 with runners in scoring position. Iancin played for Cal from 1997-2000 and earned all-conference honors two times.
Chicago (32-16), Philadelphia (31-17) and Washington (30-18) were able to punch their tickets to the Championship Series two weeks ago. However, the fourth spot came down to the final Saturday of the season, as three teams were separated by just one game heading into the final weekend of play. New England (22-26) eventually prevailed to take the fourth seed in the postseason.
Philadelphia and Chicago each made the biggest jumps in the league, going from worst to first in just one season. Chicago won nine more games and the Force won seven more to finish first and second in the league respectively.
Chicago squares off against New England in the first game on Friday, while the second game pits East Coast rivals, the Force and Glory.