AKRON, OH – The Akron Racers announced the signing of three 2017 NPF Draft picks today. Arkansas utility player Nicole Schroeder, Kent State infielder Maddy Grimm and Mississippi State pitcher Alexis Silkwood have all agreed to their first professional contracts, bringing the trio to Akron.
Schroeder was selected in the fifth round with the 21st overall pick this past April. Her senior season was a breakout year of historic proportions for the former Razorback. Schroeder hit 17 home runs in 2017 to break Arkansas’ single season record. The Razorback right fielder also brought in 49 RBI, one short of the school record, while also achieving career bests with a .329 batting average, 11 doubles and a .767 slugging percentage. Schroeder finished her career third in Arkansas’ record book with 38 career home runs.
After arriving in Akron on Tuesday, Schroeder recounted her draft night experience, which was made more special by an encounter with one of her soon to be teammates.
“We were playing a game (draft night), we were playing Silkwood’s team (Mississippi State) actually” Schroeder recalled. “I didn’t know what was going on (in the draft), they just announced it after the game. It was a cool experience, especially because Alexis was on the same field.”
After playing catcher, first base and designated player early in her career, Schroeder settled into right field, where she earned her first NFCA All-South Region selection, being named to the Second Team. Schroeder helped Arkansas improve from 17 wins in 2016 to 31 victories this season, including jumping from one SEC win to seven this season and an SEC Tournament berth. Arkansas also made the NCAA Regionals for the seventh time in school history, with Schroeder’s contributions leading the way.
Grimm was selected with the 23rd overall selection in the 2017 NPF Draft in the fifth round. Coming from nearby Kent State, Grimm is already familiar hitting at Firestone Stadium having played in the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Firestone Stadium the past four year, the Golden Flashes won the MAC Championship to advance to the NCAA Regionals in 2017.
The right-handed slugger was extremely valuable in that championship run, batting 9-for-18 in the tournament with three doubles, a home run, four runs scored and two RBI. She also scored the game-winning run in the eighth inning in the first game of the finals to defeat Ohio 1-0.
“It was funny, we haven’t always had the best memories here, so our team said this year our last game isn’t going to be at Firestone,” Grimm said. “So, after I got drafted I said to my team, I know this isn’t going to be my last game at Firestone, but let’s make sure not to have our last game at Firestone.
“It’s nice knowing this is home. It made the adjustment easier.”
The Pennsylvania native played both shortstop and third base in her time at Kent State, and has proven to be one of the best players in program history. Grimm, the 2017 MAC Player of the Year, holds Kent State career records with 69 home runs, 192 RBI and a .760 slugging percentage. Grimm ranks second in Mid-American Conference history with those career marks, behind new teammate and Akron Racer veteran, Ball State alum Jennifer Gilbert.
Silkwood was chosen by Akron with the 24th overall pick in the sixth round of the draft. The Bulldog ace had a very impressive collegiate career in Starkville, leaving Mississippi State as the career record holder with 59 wins, 555 strikeouts, 634.2 innings pitched and 137 appearances. Silkwood overtook former Racers pitcher and current assistant coach Alison Owen for the Bulldog strikeout record.
Silkwood will reunite with Owen who spent one season as a teammate to Silkwood and one season on the MSU coaching staff as a Graduate Assistant. Silkwood made an immediate impact during her freshman season in 2014, when Owen was a senior, earning SEC All-Freshman Team honors. She is also a two-time NFCA All-Region selection, and three-time SEC Pitcher of the Week.
This past season Silkwood posted a 2.16 ERA and led the Bulldogs with 15 wins, 38 appearances, 21 starts, 11 complete games, 158.2 innings pitched and 108 strikeouts, while only walking 50 batters.
“(I’ve enjoyed) getting to talk a higher level of the game,” Silkwood said. “I’ve learned so much so far and I can’t wait to keep learning.
“I want to get better and help to grow the game, be a team player and win some games.”
Schroeder, Grimm and Silkwood are a part of a deep rookie class that will look to make an immediate impact as the 2017 Racers look to bring the Cowles Cup back to Akron this summer.
About the Akron Racers: The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. The Racers will celebrate their 16th season of play in 2017. 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 (NPF)
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Akron Racers, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs, Texas Charge and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2017 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, and Canada, among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.