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Philadelphia Force Playoff Profile

August 20, 2008 - National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) - Philadelphia Force News Release

Who they are: The Force are in their third year of play in the NPF. They are based in Allentown, Pennsylvania and play their home games at ECTB Stadium at Bicentennial Park. They are owned by General Manager Thomas Kleinman, who took over the team for the 2007 campaign. Erin Statmore serves as the assistant general manager and is in her second season. They are led on the field by head coach Jennifer Teague. Teague is in her first full season with the Force, after taking over midway through last season.

Prior to this year: In 2006, their inaugural season, the Force had a last-place finish with a record of 14-28. Only five members remain from that team (Jenna Hall, Jodie Cox, Chelsea Spencer, Emily Friedman, and Ashley Smith). In 2007 and under new ownership, the Force was eliminated from playoff contention on a rainy, last day of the season defeat at the hands of the New England Riptide. Although the Force finished with an identical 24-20 record as the Rockford Thunder for the fourth and final playoff position, the tie breaker went to the Thunder, and the Force had missed the playoffs again.

2008: The Force finished second in the NPF standings with a 31-17 record. The team boasts a 19-9 home record and a league-best 12-8 record on the road.

Offensively, the Force showed that softball is a team game. Kellie Wilkerson led the NPF in hitting with a .407 average. She was joined in the top 20 by three members of her team (Sharonda McDonald, 9th, .299; Emily Friedman, 14th, .286, Chelsea Spencer, 17th, .276). In the runs scored category, they placed three players in the top five (Spencer, 2nd, 28; Clare Burnum and McDonald, tied 3rd, 26). In hits, again they placed three in the top five (Wilkerson, 2nd, 46; McDonald, 4th, 44; Spencer, 5th, 42). In the top five of stolen bases, two Force members were on the list (McDonald, 2nd, 16; Burnum, 5th, 12). Burnum and Savannah Long were tied with 10 hit by pitches. The Force as a team struck out the fewest number of times in the league (233)

Defensively, the Force committed the fewest errors of the six NPF teams (35).

In the circle, the Force was led by the 2008 NPF first-overall draft pick, Katie Burkhart, who was tied for league lead in wins (13), 2nd in the NPF with innings pitched (131.2), 3rd in strikeouts (149), 3rd in complete games (15), and 2nd in ERA (1.88). Helping Burkhart in the circle was the number two pick in the 2008 NPF draft, Megan Gibson. Gibson complied a 9-4 in 85 innings. She started 10 games and completed nine of them while posting a 2.24 ERA.

Team Notes: 9 walk-offs wins, 15 wins their final at-bat. 15-6 in one-run games, 7-3 in extra innings, 26-4 when scoring 3+ runs, 21-0 when allowing 2 runs or less, longest winning streak was 8 games, longest losing streak was 3 games, first inning was the best offensively for the Force (31 runs scored), and the worst defensively (26 runs allowed)

Records against playoff teams: (13-11); Chicago (3-5), Washington (4-4), New England (6-2)

The Force will play the Championship Series in Kimberly, Wisconsin with a fan from Iowa in their hearts and minds. Sergeant Cindy (CJ) Robinson was wounded in Iraq by a road side bomb. While home on her recovery she took to the College Women's World Series and a special senior pitcher from Texas A&M University named Megan Gibson. An email to Tom Kleinman from CJ got her in touch with "Gibby". Since this first email, CJ has been a part of the team. She made an appearance at the Force games in Chicago and then again in Rockford. She is awaiting treatment at a hospital in Tampa within the next month. She credits the Force for providing her the positive outlook on life she was missing, and claims that yelling at the Force's live streams has improved her speech. CJ is anxiously awaiting the 2009 schedule to be released so she, and her follow Force fans from Iowa, can charter a bus to Allentown, PA to see the Force play on their home turf.

The Bandits go to Kimberly as the NPF hottest team. The team has won the last 12 in row which enabled them to catch both the Glory and Force to claim the regular season championship. The Force enter after a four-game sweep of Akron and winners of 9 of their last 11 games. The Glory have loss three of their last four games. The Riptide took those three games form the Glory in the final series of the year to earn their playoff spot.

The first match up for the Force will be Friday night at approximately 9:45 p.m. ET against the Washington Glory. The Force and Glory split their eight games played with both two teams taking two games at home and two on the road. Clare Burnum led the Force against the Glory this season as she batted .348 (8/23), and Trena Peel went 7-for-21 and a .333 average against Glory pitching. Peel took four Glory pitches for home runs and drove in seven runs in the eight games played. Wilkerson added seven hits for the Force as well. In the circle, the Glory saw a lot of Burkhart. She made five appearances and four starts. The rookie from Arizona State was 4-1 against the Glory with a 3.27 ERA. She struck out 35 in 33 innings of work. For the Glory, it was Nicole Barber leading the way as she batted .368 (7/19). Sara Larquier also did damage with her bat as she connected for five home runs and 10 RBIs in the eight games. Taryne Mowatt went 2-0 against the Force in two starts allowing just two earned runs in 16 innings of work. The Force got to the other two Glory pitchers, Desiree Serrano and Sarah Pauly. Although Serrano was 2-1 against the Force, they scored eight runs off of her in 19.1 innings and took her deep three times. Pauly was credited with three of the Glory losses and posted a 5.23 ERA when she allowed 12 runs in just over 20 innings.

Other potential match ups include the Bandits and/or the Riptide. The Force went 3-5 against the number one seed, the Bandits. The series with the Bandits produced a lot of offense and the Force was led by Wilkerson who had nine hits and Friedman who had eight hits in the eight games. Long would add 10 RBIs against Bandits pitching including three home runs. Chelsea Spencer scored six runs to lead the Force in that category. Overall the Force scored 28 runs for an average of 3.5 runs per game. But as good as the Force offense was, the Bandits were just a little better. They scored 33 runs (4.125) runs per game against Force pitching. Stacy May killed the Force when she batted .444 (12/27), drove in eight runs, hit two home runs, and scored seven times. NPF's leading RBI producer, Jaime Clark, drove in eight of her 38 runs against the Force. She ended the series batting .391 (9/23) with a home run.

The Force faired better against the Riptide, the tournament's number four seed. The Force split a series at home against the Riptide before going to New England and sweeping the Riptide in a four-game set, thus going 6-2 against their rivals from the North. Spencer sparked the Force by hitting 10-for-26 and scoring four runs. Wilkerson was 5-for-12 in limited duty because of a Team NPF assignment. In four games, Wilkerson led the Force with six RBIs. Pitching wise, both Burkhart and Gibson made their debuts against the Riptide and both pitched stellar softball. Both rookies went 2-0 in two starts. Gibson did not allow a run in 14 innings, while Burkhart allowed just one run in her 14 innings. For the 'Tide, Lisa Modglin was 10-for-23 with four runs scored. Lisa Iancin led the Riptide with six runs scored against the Force. Jocelyn Forest (1-2) and Eileen Canney (1-3) picked up the pitching wins for the Riptide.

Here is the schedule from Kimberly, which is in the central time zone. GameTracker will be available for all games in the tournament.

Friday, August 22

* Game #1 6:00 pm CT/ 7:00 pm ET: #1 Chicago Bandits (32-16) vs. #4 New England Riptide (22-26)

* Game #2 8:45 pm CT/ 9:45 pm ET (approx.): #2 Philadelphia Force (31-17) vs. #3 Washington Glory (30-18)

Saturday, August 23

* Game #3 3:00 pm CT/ 4:00 pm ET: Loser Game #1 vs. Loser Game #2

* Game #4 5:45 pm CT/ 6:45 pm ET (approx.): Winner Game #1 vs. Winner Game #2

Sunday, August 24

* Game #5 12:00 pm CT/ 1:00 pm ET: Winner Game #3 vs. Loser Game #4

* Game #6 2:45 pm CT/ 3:45 pm ET (approx.): Winner Game #4 vs. Winner Game #5

* Game #7 5:30 pm CT/ 6:30 ET (approx.): (if needed, if loser of Game #6 only has one loss)

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