NPF Power Rankings: Chicago Bandits Off To Undefeated Start
The 2019 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) campaign is off and running, which means it's time to see where the league's six teams stack up against one another in the season's early goings. With just about two weeks of play in the books and rookies still en route to their respective teams on the heels of last week's Women's College World Series (WCWS), NPF action is just starting to heat up.
See below for Softball America's first-ever NPF power rankings.
1. Chicago Bandits (5–0)
Fresh off Kelly Barnhill's storied career at the University of Florida, the Bandits now have their top draft pick in tow, as the righthander made her debut with the team on Saturday night. Barnhill, who finished her collegiate career just over one week ago at the WCWS, earned the win in her first NPF game, which is expected to be the first of many professional victories for the former USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
The Bandits possess a balanced lineup this season that features NPF veteran Kristyn Sandberg and reigning NPF Rookie of the Year Jessie Scroggins. Expect Chicago to once again be in the mix for a championship in August.
2. Canadian Wild (9–1)
Comprised of members of the Canadian national team in preparation for the 2020 Olympics, the Wild are showing well in their inaugural NPF season. They opened the year with a six-game sweep of the Beijing Eagles and an eight-game winning streak overall, before falling to the USSSA Pride over the weekend.
3. USSSA Pride (1–3)
The defending Cowles Cup champions, who went 45–5 last season, will have a tough act to follow in 2019.
The Pride lost All-NPF selections Lauren Chamberlain and Hallie Wilson to retirement before the start of the current season, and are still awaiting the arrival of a few key rookies following the completion of their college careers. USSSA, however, still has veteran firepower in outfielders Kelly Kretschman and Megan Wiggins, along with the explosive bats of Sierra Romero, Bianka Bell and Kirsti Merritt, among several others.
The depth in the circle is undeniable for the Pride, as Keilani Ricketts, Jessica Burroughs and Jolene Henderson are just a few of USSSA's pitchers who will look to lead the way for the defending champs this summer.
4. Cleveland Comets (0–5)
The Comets, who finished last in the league's standings in 2018, are off to a rocky start this season. Cleveland is made up of several players from the Mexican national team in preparation for the 2020 Olympics.
Former Arizona ace Taylor McQuillin, who helped the Wildcats to an appearance in the 2019 WCWS, adds immediate depth to the Comets' pitching rotation.
5. Aussie Peppers (0–1)
The Peppers are another team that possesses players who are preparing for the 2020 Games this summer through their participation in the NPF. The predominantly-Australian squad will look to rookie righthander Nicole Newman, the No. 13 pick in the 2019 NPF draft, for some quality innings this year.
6. Beijing Shougang Eagles (1–6)
Made up of primarily Chinese-born athletes, the Eagles are in their third NPF season. Members of the team are hoping to qualify China this summer for the 2020 Olympics.
The squad selected five Auburn softball seniors in April's NPF draft.