Hundreds of fans turned in suggestions to name the new USSSA Pride pro softball mascot. USSSA Pride/Savanna Collins, Florida Today
Banged up and bruised, but not beaten, July certainly was a challenging month for the USSSA Pride softball team.
Despite injuries to a slew of players and even a blockbuster trade. the defending champion Pride still are in the hunt for the regular-season title in the National Pro Fastpitch league and have advanced to the Championship Series in Rosemont, Illinois.
The Pride (28-8), who were one game behind Chicago (29-7) heading into Wednesday night’s games, will host the Bandits on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the USSSA Sports Complex in Viera.
These games will be a preview of the Championship Series rematch from last year when the two tangle in Rosemont, Illinois, for the Cowles Cup, starting Aug. 15.
It also will be a good chance to meet the Pride’s newly named mascot, Apollo.
Naming contest is on for pro softball mascot for USSSA Pride softball champs Courtesy of USSSA Pride softball, Florida Today
Here’s a look at some of the recent Pride highlights:
The injuries: Florida stars Amanda Lorenz and Nicole DeWitt, and Oklahoma’s Falepolima Aviu are out for the season with knee injuries; late pickup Kat Moore (finger), and Chelsea Goodacre (finger) are sidelined, and they join last year’s top hitter, Sierra Romero (knee), who was injured in a preseason exhibition.
The trade: The Pride sent Oklahoma stars Paige Parker, a pitcher, and Nicole Pendley, a right fielder, to Cleveland for sluggers Brittany Cervantes of Kentucky and Emily Carasone of Auburn and the rights to former Florida State pitcher Meghan King.
The latest newcomers: The Pride signed Kelli Milligan of Louisiana and Raegan Rogers of Oklahoma and were in uniform July 23.
Who’s been hot: Pitchers Taran Alvelo (5-1, 1.11 ERA), Jolene Henderson (9-4, 1.74 ERA) and Jailyn Ford (5-0, 1.84) lead a strong staff that includes Megan Good (2-0, 0.00) and Jessica Burroughs (3-1, 2.04).
Cervantes, inserted into the cleanup spot, capped a 3-for-3 night with a walk-off home run to beat the Canadian Wild 5-4. She is hitting .382.
Sydney Romero (.348) had an explosive series against Beijing, launching a bomb on July 24 and then going 4 for 4 with four runs and three RBI in an 8-0 win against the Eagles.
Alexis “Chip” Bennett has showed her amazing speed, scoring from second on a hit to short left field and crossing the plate on a couple of suicide squeeze plays.
Veteran Kelly Kretschman of Satellite High collected her league-leading 500th career hit, and Alex Powers of Eau Gallie High has been hot recently with a pair of doubles and a home run to push her average to .321.
Former FSU star Jessie Warren continues to be solid at the hot corner.
Now it comes down to the Chicago games to determine the regular-season champion.
The Bandits feature former Florida Gators pitching stars Kelly Barnhill and Aleshia Ocasio as well as Danielle O’Toole of Arizona and Haylie Wagner of Michigan. Abbey Cheek leads the team with a .356 average and has six home runs, while Amanda Chidester is hitting .352 with seven homers. Brenna Moss and Hannah Flippen each have scored 17 runs.
The Pride will play three games against Beijing in Mankato, Minn., and then two more at Chicago to close the regular season.
Contact Grossman at 321-242-3676 or firstname.lastname@example.org
USSSA Pride upcoming home games
Aug. 1 vs. Chicago Bandits, 7 p.m.
Aug. 2 vs. Chicago Bandits, 8 p.m.
Aug. 3 vs. Chicago Bandits, 7 p.m.
Playoffs begin Aug. 15, TBA
Info: (321) 877-0631
Chicago Bandits … 29-7 (.778)
USSSA Pride … 28-8 (.778)
Canadian Wild … 22-19-1 (.585)
Cleveland Comets … 20-23-1 (.466)
Aussie Pepper … 10-29-1 (.263)
Beijing Eagles … 7-35-1 (.174)