2008 New England Riptide
Lowell, Ma -- The NPF champion New England Riptide will return to Lowell this week to begin getting ready for the 2008 season. The veteran Riptide team will seek to bring the Cowles Cup back to Lowell this year and they should have a good chance to do so. Thirteen of last year's sixteen players will be returning to the squad this year, including all the starters.
Three out of four pitchers are returning to the Riptide, the only one not being former Olympic gold medallist, Danielle Henderson, who retired at the end of last year. The Riptide is choosing to revert back to a three pitcher rotation so the returning stars Jocelyn Forest, Eileen Canney and Erica Beach will be the staff this year. Forest, one of two players from the original 2004 Riptide, has been the mainstay of the team and now leads the NPF in both career wins and strikeouts. Coming off a sub par 5-5 record last year, Forest is looking to rebound to her 2006 form in which she was 15-5 and led the Riptide to the championship, also garnering MVP honors for the championship series. Former Northwester star Eileen Canney returns after bursting on the scene last year to lead the league in both ERA (1.16) and strikeouts (137) to go along with her 9-6 record. Rounding out the pitching staff will be Erica Beach. Beach is also a five year NPF star who joined the Riptide in 2006 as a free agent. Beach pitched the 2004 and 05 seasons with the lowly Arizona Heat who finished well below .500 both years, yet managed to compile a 19-16 overall record, despite being overused in 2005 due to others being injured. Beach finished the season at 6-2 last year and tops off what should be one of the top pitching staffs in the league.
What do Jackie Pasquerella (3b), Lisa Iancin (2b, SS) and Carri Leto Martin (2b) have in common? All three are returning to the Riptide this season, all are infielders and all have won NPF Defensive Player of the Year awards, so opposing teams had better hit the ball well past them if they expect to get on base. Defensively, this infield is arguably the greatest defensive infield ever assembled in softball history, including past and current national teams. Not only does the unit as a whole commit very few errors, but also constantly robs the opponents of hits. Last year, Pasquerella played forty games at third base and in over 150 chances committed no errors. Add in first baseman Lyndsey Angus and the infield is strengthened even more. Angus was the NPF Player of the Year in 2006 with a .354 average, three home runs and only one defensive error. She is also one of the toughest to strike out, in 2005 fanning only three times in 140 at bats. Along with Forest, Angus is the other charter member of the Riptide returning for her fifth season. Amazingly, if one of the above players is not in the line up, Jess Merchant will be. Merchant, a key player with the 2005 Michigan team that won the College World Series, is not only a terrific shortstop, but also a huge threat at the plate. In 2006 she won the NPF Offensive Player of the Year award with a .345 batting average and twelve home runs.
Later this week: Outfielders, catchers and rookies
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