USSSA Pride promise fireworks as softball season continues
Kelly Kretschman, a Satellite High School graduate, has been named the National Pro Fastpitch League Player of the Year for three straight seasons
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
It didn’t take long for the USSSA Pride to establish themselves as must-see entertainment for local sports fans last season.
And that was while the United States Specialty Sports Association’s Space Coast Complex was still under construction.
Well, if you can consider last year’s Brevard County debut a success … you haven’t seen anything yet. The Pride kicked off their 2018 National Pro Fastpitch Softball season with a four-game stint May 30 to June 2 against the Aussie Spirit.
“I think it’s going to be a big difference for the fans,” Pride assistant general manager Megan Willis said. “We have a lot of our own youth tournaments surrounding the games, so you’re going to have a lot of out-of-towners, you’re going to have a lot of softball players, a lot of people that want to come out and look.
“I think that’s going to drive the hype around the community.”
Last year’s Pride team went 40-9, winning the NPF regular-season title for the fourth year in a row and sixth time in the past seven seasons. This year’s team should be just as talented, if not more, than that group.
Brevard County’s own Kelly Kretschman, who won her third consecutive NPF Player of the Year award last season, is back along with former Eau Gallie and University of Florida standout Alex Powers.
Catcher Chelsea Goodacre won the league’s Gold Glove Award last season, while shortstop Shelby Pendley won the Home Run Award.
First baseman Hallie Wilson was a first-team All-NPF pick last year along with Pendley, Kretschman and pitcher Keilani Ricketts.
This year’s pitching staff has been re-tooled as Jordan Taylor (first-team All NPF) and Hannah Rogers were traded to the Aussie Spirit and Jailyn Ford and former University of Florida star Delanie Gourley were brought in to team up with a talented group that also includes former Florida State All-American Jessica Burroughs.
Decorated travel ball coach Mike Stith has joined the team as head coach for this season with a staff that includes Cody Dent and former Pride player Andrea Duran.
This year’s NPF draft saw the Pride select Oklahoma pitcher Paige Parker, Florida State’s two-time ACC Player of the Year Jessie Warren, Oklahoma outfielder Nicole Pendley (Shelby’s sister), Florida infielder Nicole DeWitt and Georgia outfielder Cortni Emmanuel.
With a fun team to watch and a new stadium complex that is now complete, there should be a lot for USSSA Pride fans to be excited about this season as the team makes another run at a Cowles Cup championship.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Willis said. “I know for July 4th, we’re partnering up with the Viera Company. They’re going to do a big Fourth of July Fireworks Festival from the stadium, so we have that to look forward to.
“I know we’ve partnered up with a couple of companies to do promotions each night. I think just the whole overall game-day experience is going to be much better than what we saw last year, since we’re fully functional.”