NASHVILLE, TN -- The Akron Racers kicked off the 2017 NPF draft by tabbing Minnesota pitcher Sara Groenewegen with the second overall draft pick. Groenewegen is a force both from the circle and the plate, that has compiled many accolades in her remarkable career. Groenewegen is a two-time NFCA All-American and three-time All-Big Ten player. In 2014, Groenewegen won the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. The following year, she won Big Ten Player of the Year. For her career, Groenewegen has an ERA of 1.64, a WHIP of 0.90, 98 wins and 1,110 strikeouts. In addition, she has a career batting average of over .300, 149 RBI, and 36 home runs. Groenewegen has continued her dominance in 2017, accumulating the third best ERA in the nation at 0.52, a WHIP of 0.72, a 22-2 record and 203 strikeouts in 147.2 innings pitched.
The Racers added more pitching in the second round with Michigan ace Megan Betsa with the seventh overall selection. Betsa has had a very distinguished college career with the Wolverines. The Georgia native is the reigning back-to-back Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and has earned All-Big Ten honors in each year in Ann Arbor. Betsa is on track to extend both streaks with 23 complete games, 19 wins and 334 strikeouts in 183 innings of work as a senior. The right-hander leads the country in strikeouts and is tied for third with 10 shutouts.
Akron kicked off the third round by selecting Wisconsin catcher Chloe Miller with the first pick of the round, the 11th selection overall. Miller is among the nation's top hitters with a .440 batting average and leads the Big Ten with a .913 slugging percentage. Last season Miller played in every game for the Badgers and earned her second straight NFCA All-Region team selection. The Racers finished the third round by selecting Tennessee outfielder Megan Geer. The speedy outfielder began the 2017 season by being named Preseason All-SEC, and by being selected to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 "Watch List". Geer has proven worthy of the accolade, hitting .330 and scoring 41 runs as a senior. Geer had an outstanding 2016, setting career highs in batting average (.368), runs (61), hits (60), RBIs (55), walks (39), stolen bases (25), on-base percentage (.493) and slugging percentage (.638). Geer also notched 11 home runs and reached base in 54 of 59 games. On her career, Geer is top 10 all-time in the Volunteer record book with 36 home runs and 58 stolen bases.
The Racers tabbed outfielder Sydni Emanuel from the University of Georgia with the 16th overall draft pick to begin the fourth round. After transferring from Texas Tech, Emanuel was named to the All-SEC Team in each of the past two seasons. Emanuel is on pace for her best batting average at .454 and is currently third in the nation with 74 hits, and is on pace for her career best in RBI with 32. In 2016, Emanuel started 53 games, leading the Bulldogs with a .441 batting average with 78 hits, 48 runs, 15 walks and 14 stolen bases.
Akron chose Arkansas outfielder Nicole Schroeder with the first pick in the fifth round, 21st overall. Schroeder has shown versatility, playing catcher, first base and then settling in at right field this season. Schroeder is batting .339 with 13 homers and 42 RBI. Two picks later the Racers tabbed Pennsylvania native Maddy Grimm from Kent State as the 23rd draft pick. Grimm was a First Team All-MAC selection each of the past two seasons. Also, she is a three-time NFCA All-Mideast Region selection (First Team-2015, 2016 Third Team-2014). This season Grimm is batting .343 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI. Grimm, who has played both positions on the left side of the infield for the Golden Flashes, is the Kent State record holder with 65 home runs, 183 RBI and walks with 123. Akron's final selection was pitcher Alexis Silkwood from Mississippi State. Silkwood’s five SEC honors over her career are the most of any player in Mississippi State history. Her awards include two-time SEC Freshman of the Week, 2014 SEC All-Freshman Team, three-time SEC Pitcher of the Week, and 2015 NFCA All-South Region Third Team. Silkwood is flourishing this season, with an ERA of 1.52, 13-5 record and 93 strikeouts in 129.1 innings pitched. For her career, Silkwood has accumulated 539 strikeouts, 57 victories and 13 shutouts. Silkwood ranks in the top five in Bulldog history with 90 starts, 634.2 innings pitched, 49 complete games, 57 wins and 539 strikeouts.
2017 NPF Draft:
1. USSSA Pride: Jessica Burroughs, P, Florida State
2. Akron Racers: Sara Groenewegen, P, Minnesota
3. Chicago Bandits: Sahvanna Jaquish, C, LSU
4. Chicago Bandits: Sierra Hyland, P, Cal Poly
5. Texas Charge: Bailey Landry, OF, LSU
6. Texas Charge: Katiyana Mauga, INF, Arizona
7. Akron Racers: Megan Betsa, P, Michigan
8. Chicago Bandits: Danielle O'Toole, P, Arizona
9. USSSA Pride: Alexis "Mo" Mercado, INF, Arizona
10. USSSA Pride: Alex Powers, INF, Florida State
11. Akron Racers: Chloe Miller, C, Wisconsin
12. Scrap Yard Dawgs: Delanie Gourley, P, Florida *Traded to the Texas Charge*
13. Texas Charge: Ali Aguilar, INF, Washington *Traded to the Scrap Yard Dawgs*
14. Texas Charge: Haley Chambers-Book, P, SIU-Edwardsville
15. Akron Racers: Megan Geer, OF, Tennessee
16. Akron Racers: Sydni Emanuel, OF, Georgia
17. Scrap Yard Dawgs: Hannah Flippen, INF, Utah
18. Scrap Yard Dawgs: Nikki Udria, INF, Oregon
19. USSSA Pride: Mandie Perez, OF, Arizona
20. USSSA Pride: Kelly Christner, OF, Michigan
21. Akron Racers: Nicole Schroeder, UT, Arkansas
22. Texas Charge: Lindsey Cargill, OF, Baylor
23. Akron Racers: Maddy Grimm, INF, Kent State
24. Akron Racers: Alexis Silkwood, P, Mississippi State
25. Texas Charge: M.J. Knighten, INF, Nebraska *Traded to the Scrap Yard Dawgs*
26. Scrap Yard Dawgs: Morgan Zerkle, INF, Marshall