NASHVILLE, TN – As the picks unfolded, the Akron Racers seemed to have a goal in mind when attacking the 2016 NPF Senior Draft presented by Bownet on Thursday night. Akron seemed intent on finding as many options as possible for the 2016 season by selecting some of the draft’s most versatile athletes. As well as bringing in premier athletes that offer skills the Racers could use. They showcased that plan with the team’s first three picks, selecting Jaylin Ford, a left-handed pitcher out of James Madison University with the third overall pick; shortstop Sami Fagan from the University of Missouri with the fourth overall pick and then in the second round taking second baseman Alex Hugo from the University of Georgia with the 10th overall pick.
"I guess you might say I was on a mission tonight; grab us the best lefty in the draft, Ford: the best shortstop in the draft, Fagan and then top it off with one of the best power hitters, Hugo," remarked GM Joey Arrietta. "Bonus that with Ford who can hit & play first base & I'd say we plugged a lot of holes with these three incredible athletes."
Ford is a player who through three collegiate seasons was a four-time All-Colonial Athletic Association selection. As a freshman in 2013, Ford was selected First Team All-CAA at both pitcher and first base. The left-handed pitcher is a two-time All-American who currently holds a 0.98 ERA in her senior season and boasts a 1.54 career mark. Offensively, Ford is a dangerous weapon as well, batting over .300 in three of her four collegiate seasons. The left-hander broke James Madison’s career record with 43 home runs in 2016 and boasts a .336 batting average. In addition to her career at James Madison, Ford also earned a silver medal with the USA Junior National Team at the ISF Junior World Championships in 2013.
Fagan continued to up the ante on versatility as a player that has played catcher as well as the left side of the infield at Missouri before settling in at shortstop. Fagan, who bats left-handed, but throws right-handed, broke the school single season record with 66 RBI in her junior season, landing on the All-SEC Second Team. This season Fagan leads the Tigers with a .442 batting average, 46 hits and 10 home runs. Fagan has proven herself a versatile offensive weapon, who with 20 stolen bases is the only player in the country in the top 10 of batting average, home runs and stolen bases this season.
Hugo already boasts two NFCA All-American honors to her name. As a sophomore Hugo led the nation with 25 home runs, and she repeated as SEC home run champion her junior season with 22. This season Hugo is batting .313 with 46 runs scored and 36 RBI. Hugo has hit eight home runs and 15 doubles, while stealing six bases as a senior.
In the fourth round, Akron added two more exciting players to the mix, drafting University of Oregon utility player Geri Ann Glasco and Louisiana State University first baseman Sandra Simmons. Over the past two seasons, the Ducks have used Glasco as a pitcher, first baseman, designated player, leftfielder and rightfielder, proving just how adaptable she is to doing whatever the team needs her to do. This season Glasco is batting .374 with eight home runs, 25 RBI and 15 runs scored in 36 games. She also is 6-0 in the circle with a 2.09 ERA in 53.2 innings pitched.
"Geri Ann Glasco is my ‘can do it all kid’ and oh boy can she," explained Arrietta. "I see her as a position player that crushes the ball and comes in as a middle reliever. Lots of options."
Simmons started all 66 games for the Tigers at first base in 2015, being named to the SEC All-Defensive Team, while also batting .331 with 53 hits, with 13 extra base hits. Simmons scored 36 runs and plated 38 RBI.
"Simmons is a steady-eddie with a huge heart that never quits, that's the Racers DNA," offered Arrietta. "We’re lucky to have another Tiger in the tank.”
Simmons joins pitcher Rachele Fico and outfielder A.J. Andrews as former LSU standouts on the Racers.
In the fifth round, the Racers used back-to-back picks on catcher Hannah Day from Troy University (30th overall) and utility player Emily Messer (31st overall) from the University of South Alabama. Day, who also played outfield for the Trojans, led her team in batting average (.329), hits (57), doubles (13), triples (3), extra base hits (22), RBI (43), slugging percentage (.543) and sacrifice bunts (7) as a junior in her first season at Troy. This year, Day has started all 40 of the Trojans’ games, leading the team with 15 home runs and 55 RBI, while going a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts. Messer who has played in both the outfield and the infield before settling into third base for the Jaguars, currently leads South Alabama with a .463 batting average, 34 runs scored, 57 hits, a .610 slugging percentage and is second on the team with 14 stolen bases.
"Day & Messer are the classic Joey draft picks that everybody goes, ‘who?’ Then they prove to be All-NPF players everybody is talking about"
Akron’s final pick came in the sixth and final round, tabbing pitcher Hannah Perryman from the University of Missouri at St. Louis with the 37th overall selection. Perryman has already broken the NCAA Division II records for career strikeouts with 1,603 and perfect games with nine. In 2016 Perryman is 36-2 with a 0.94 ERA. Perryman, who is coached collegiately by Racers field manager Brian Levin, became the first ever Division II player to be drafted in the NPF draft.
"Perryman's got a chance to prove Division ll players deserve to be included in the Draft night results,” stated Arrietta. “She can set the bar & kick the door open for other players. She’s legit and another strong lefty."
The Racers certainly bolstered their squad heading into 2016, which marks Akron’s 15th Season of Play as a professional franchise. The Racers will kick off the season May 31 on the road against the Pennsylvania Rebellion for a two-game series before welcoming the Rebellion to Firestone Stadium on June 8 for their home opener.
About the Akron Racers: The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league, celebrating their 15th Season of Play in 2016. The Racers competed in the Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL) for two seasons in 1999 and 2000 and in the NPF since 2004. Historic Firestone Stadium is home to the Racers and numerous amateur events at all levels of play.
About National Pro Fastpitch: National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fast pitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fast pitch softball since 2002. www.profastpitch.com.