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California Commotion Softball

Kirk Walker Named Head Coach of New NPF California Commotion Team

California Commotion Softball

Kirk Walker Named Head Coach of New NPF California Commotion Team

Nov. 18, 2019

The California Softball Commotion have named Kirk Walker as Head Coach of the newest club to join the ranks of National Pro Fastpitch. Walker will combine the coaching duties with a position as Assistant General Manager for the newly formed team.

“We know that assembling this team and being competitive in our first season out, will depend heavily on designating the right person to lead the way,” commented Commotion General Manager, Deb Hartwig. “To be able to land a Head Coach with the success, experience and expertise Kirk brings to this position, is a huge win for this team. I look forward to working with Kirk in his capacity as Head Coach and Assistant General Manager and with this announcement, am anxious to begin putting our team together.”

Walker has a diverse and accomplished resume, both as a player and coach. Most recently, he was a member of the NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year, as a member of the National Championship UCLA Bruins staff of 2019. That title marks his seventh as a staff member of the Bruins, combined with the titles of ’84, ’85, ’88, ’89, ’90 and ’92. Four times along the way, he and his fellow staff members were named NFCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.

Walker began his coaching career while an undergrad at UCLA and spent eleven seasons there as an assistant (1984-1994), prior to taking on the Head Coaching position at Oregon State in 1995. Through an eighteen year tenure, Walker led the Beavers to ten post season NCAA Tournaments en route to becoming the winningest coach in OSU history. While there, he coached 79 All PAC 10/12 players, 28 NFCA All-Region players, and 10 NFCA All-Americans.

On the women’s amateur side, Walker, as Head Coach of the California Commotion Women’s ASA team, led his highly decorated squad of superstars to four consecutive National Titles in the Women’s Major Division. Players on those teams included Lisa Fernandez, Dot Richardson, Sheila Douty, Lori Harrigan, Michele Granger, Gillian Boxx, Leah O’Brien, Laura Berg, Amy Chellevold, Karen Walker, Pam Newton, Jennifer Brundage, Jill Justin, Debbie Doom, Jenny Condon, Janice Parks, and Lisa Longaker.

Walker has also been a member of the Team USA coaching staff. First, as a member of the twelve person coaching staff for the quadrennium of 2000-2004, which led up to the Athens Olympic Games of 2004, and later as an Assistant Coach on the 2017 Junior Women’s Team that won Gold at the World Championships.

As a player, Walker has been a longtime pitcher in the Men’s Fastpitch Division. Most recently, in 2018, he was a member of the NAFA Men’s A National Championship team, where he was named to the All World Team for the sixth time in his career.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to lead the new Commotion team and to help grow the professional level of fastpitch on the west coast,” stated Walker.  “The history of the California Commotion is based on putting high level athletes with great passion and character on the field to produce a winning culture. It is an honor to work with Damon and Deb to build an organization that can extend the opportunity for high level collegiate athletes to compete and perform on the professional stage.   California and the west coast have a rich tradition for impacting the sport of softball from the grass roots level and beyond.  With the great year round weather and the huge numbers of young women playing the game here on the west coast, there is a huge opportunity to entertain, educate, motivate and inspire the next generation of athletes and the fans of the game.”

The Commotion become the first west coast presence for the sixteen year old league since 2005, and begin play in the spring of 2020. Exact schedule details will be made available in January by the league and its respective teams.

The California Softball Commotion begins play in the National Pro Fastpitch League in the 2020 season. The goal of the Commotion is to deliver professional softball entertainment to California by expanding competition of the league to the west coast on a consistent basis. Through their presence, the California Commotion aims to inspire the next generation of softball players, and to engage a broad and enthusiastic fan base to support and encourage their endeavors to be professional athletes.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)

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 Peppers, Beijing Shougang Eagles, California Softball Commotion, Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, Chicago Bandits, and Cleveland Comets. Three complete competing teams will represent their respective countries in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Those teams are Softball Australia, Softball Canada, and Team Mexico, who participate in the NPF as Aussie Peppers, Canadian Wild and Cleveland Comets.  National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada, China, and Mexico, and represent the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.

 

 

Board of Governors starts process to enhance name, image and likeness opportunities

Board of Governors starts process to enhance name, image and likeness opportunities

Each NCAA division directed to immediately consider modernization of bylaws and policies

In the Association’s continuing efforts to support college athletes, the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.

The Board of Governors’ action directs each of the NCAA’s three divisions to immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century, said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Drake said. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”

Specifically, the board said modernization should occur within the following principles and guidelines:

  • Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
  • Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
  • Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.
  • Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
  • Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
  • Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
  • Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
  • Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.

The board’s action was based on comprehensive recommendations from the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which includes presidents, commissioners, athletics directors, administrators and student-athletes. The group gathered input over the past several months from numerous stakeholders, including current and former student-athletes, coaches, presidents, faculty and commissioners across all three divisions. The board also directed continued and productive engagement with legislators.

The working group will continue to gather feedback through April on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment and to refine its recommendations on the principles and regulatory framework. The board asked each division to create any new rules beginning immediately, but no later than January 2021.

“As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

NCAA Press Release: https://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/board-governors-starts-process-enhance-name-image-and-likeness-opportunities

Softball Canada Joins National Pro Fastpitch

Softball Canada Joins National Pro Fastpitch

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 30, 2018)–National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), in conjunction with Softball Canada, Rent One Park, and presenting sponsor, visitSI, announced the addition of the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois to the league today.

The Wild becomes the sixth affiliate NPF team set to compete in the 2019 season.

“Obviously, this is a tremendous addition to the league for a number of reasons,” commented NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “To add an international team of the quality of Canada, currently ranked third in the world, and to add the operational excellence of the administration at Rent One Park, is a home run for all of us.”

Softball Canada CEO, Hugh Mitchener remarked, “We are delighted to be announcing our entry into the NPF in 2019.  Commissioner Kempf has been incredibly helpful in setting up our partnership with the Miners organization and we can’t wait to get going next year.”

“With the growth and interest in girls’ and women’s softball over the last decade, this is an incredible opportunity for fans to see world-class, best-of-the-best talent right here at Rent One Park,” Miners COO Mike Pinto said. “These women, including former and future Olympians, could be incredible role models for young girls in our area to see what can be achieved with dreams and hard work.”

Softball Canada recently finished third at the 2018 Women’s Softball World Championship in August, and is currently ranked third in the world by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). They will play a 50-game schedule in National Pro Fastpitch overall, facing off with some of the best players in the world, including current and former Olympians.

National Pro Fastpitch will be entering their 16th season in 2019. Teams currently hail from three continents, with players representing the national teams of six different countries. They include the best of the best softball players in the world, including current and former members of Team USA, Olympians, Women’s College World Series Champions and MVP’s, NCAA record holders, various conference players of the year and many All-Americans.

“We are thrilled that Southern Illinois was chosen as the host region for Team Canada,” Shannon Johnson, CEO of visitSI, said. “visitSI is extremely honored to be the presenting sponsor of the Wild. This gives us an opportunity to showcase our region on an international front. We are also excited about the potential economic impact this could have, both during the season and in the future, as members of the various NPF teams experience beautiful Southern Illinois.”

Fans can follow the Wild on Facebook at Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, as well as on Twitter and Instagram at CanadianWildSI as they prepare for the 2019 season.

About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)

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.

WCWS Most Outstanding Player Signs Contract with the Pride

WCWS Most Outstanding Player Signs Contract with NPF USSSA Pride

VIERA, FL (June 12, 2018) – Jessie Warren has signed a two-year contract with the USSSA Pride for the 2018 season.

Warren, selected as the 7th overall pick in the second round of the 2018 NPF Draft, joins the team after a phenomenal collegiate career at Florida State University.

“We are very fortunate to land one of the best overall players in the game,” remarked the Pride General Manager Don DeDonatis. “Jessie is a pure, natural and dangerous hitter and her defensive skills, as proven in the FSU Women’s College World Series Championship Win, are second to none.”

Warren was a four-year starter for FSU at third base. During her college career, she was named an All-American twice, 2017 and 2018 ACC Player of Year, the 2018 WCWS Most Outstanding Player along with multiple other ACC and regional honors and helped lead her team to the first ever WCWS National Championship in FSU program history.

In her senior season, Warren led the team on and off the field, posting a .404 batting average, with 21 home runs, a .836 slugging percentage, 70 RBIs and 153 total bases. During FSU’s historic postseason run at the WCWS the country was able to see Warren’s fight and love for the game.

General Manager DeDonatis said Jessie Warren is a gamer and that she can do it all. He stated that he can’t wait to watch her continue her softball career in a Pride uniform.

Warren becomes the third player from FSU to become a member of the Pride, joining Jessica Burroughs (2017) and Alex Powers (2017).

Keep up with your favorite NPF team on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and at profastpitch.com!

About USSSA
USSSA is headquartered in Viera, Florida. USSSA is the world’s largest multi-sport athletic organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 4 million participants, competing in 14 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information about USSSA, visit www.usssa.com and follow USSSA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Stay up to date on USSSA Pride and NPF news by following  the Pride on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or visiting www.usssapride.com.

About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)
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


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Early Recruiting: A big threat to softball

Early Recruiting: A big threat to softball


Coaches, student-athletes, parents and administrators explain why they want the NCAA to pass legislation to end early recruiting in softball. (from NFCA.org)


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Former Wildcat Taryne Mowatt Changed the Stereotype


First Choice Softball note: The following is a 2007 article from the Arizona Daily Star. We have reprinted it here with permission from the publisher, as we believe the message is timeless and can be an inspiration to other pitchers facing the “shorter than 6 foot” challenge.


Arizona’s Mowatt: Above and beyond

By Patrick Finley -Arizona Star (2007 original publication date)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Taryne Mowatt stands 5 feet 6 inches, but she looks taller. She has an extra foot of tenacity.

How else to explain what the UA pitcher did while becoming the Most Outstanding Player in the Women’s College World Series?

Mowatt threw 1,035 pitches in eight games over seven days to lead the Wildcats to their second straight WCWS title. She defeated Tennessee’s Monica Abbott, a pitcher 9 inches taller who had thrown two fewer games.

In doing so, she might have changed the perception of softball pitchers.

“You know what’s so nice, I think, for the game of softball?” UA coach Mike Candrea said. “Everyone thinks pitchers need to be 6-foot. To see a little petite girl throw her (butt) off makes me so proud.”

In recent history, dominant pitchers have been bigger. Former Texas star Cat Osterman, widely considered the greatest pitcher in history, is 6-3. So is Abbott, the NCAA’s career leader in wins, shutouts, innings pitched, starts, appearances and strikeouts.

Alicia Hollowell, who led the UA to a title last year, is 6-1. Jennie Finch, the 2001 WCWS hero, measures 6 feet tall.

UCLA’s Keira Goerl and LSU’s Kristin Schmidt — 2003 and 2004 tournament MOPs, respectively — stand 5-10 and 5-9.

While height is listed for softball players, weight does not appear in media guides and is not widely discussed.

“I have little girls come up to me and they’re like, ‘It’s so good to see somebody who’s not the biggest person out there,'” said Mowatt, who has played since she was 7. “I just hope little girls think that you don’t have to be 6-foot and above to be a main pitcher. You can pitch as long as you want — you just have to work hard.

“I definitely like the fact that you don’t have to be 6-3. I think I changed that stereotype a little bit.”

She did it at a disadvantage — at least compared to Abbott. The Volunteers’ fireballer threw harder than 70 mph from the pitching rubber, located 43 feet from the plate.

But from where the ball is released from her hand, “that’s 70 from about 34 feet,” Candrea said.

At about 140 pounds, Mowatt puts less body weight behind her pitches than Abbott. But the UA junior proved you don’t need to win the radar gun battle to win games.

If Abbott was Randy Johnson, Mowatt was Greg Maddux. Throughout the tournament, she mixed pitches as if she were psychic.

Nancy Evans — like Mowatt, a sub-6-foot pitcher when she won the WCWS in 1997 — called pitches from the dugout.

Hollowell, an undergraduate assistant this year, had a simple explanation for Mowatt’s success.

“She has the heart,” Hollowell said. “She’s a little girl. They make it sound like the stereotypical pitcher has to be tall and lanky, but there are plenty of pitchers who aren’t tall but get the job done. Nancy Evans wasn’t 6 feet tall.”

Mowatt said she couldn’t sleep Monday and Tuesday nights because both of her arms ached. And save for a tearful talk with her mom, Suzie, on Monday night — “It was just like everything, the loss, how tired I was, and I let it all out,” she said — Mowatt was the picture of toughness.

“A machine,” said second baseman Chelsie Mesa.

Candrea got a preview of Mowatt’s heart last year. That’s when Mowatt’s father, Larry, told the coach about his daughter’s potential.

“Last year he said, ‘You know what, hang in with her, and she’ll give you some special moments,'” Candrea said.

After Wednesday’s game, Candrea hugged Suzie Mowatt. He told her to thank her husband, who was home in California, for the advice.

“I can’t remember seeing such a gritty performance by an athlete as this young lady gave us,” Candrea said. “Everything was on her shoulders, and she did it.”

Reprinted with permission from Arizona Daily Star.


First Choice Softball note: In the 2007 Women’s College World Series, Mowatt lead the Arizona Wildcats, at that time, to their second consecutive and 8th overall national softball title. All-American, Mowatt was awarded two ESPY Awards during her Wildcat career; Best Female Athlete and Best Female College Athlete. She went on to graduate from Arizona in 2008. Mowatt went on to play professional softball, coached at California Baptist University and is currently (2017) the pitching coach at Ole Miss University.


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