Being a Rookie in the NPF is extraordinary. Being crowned the NPF Champions in your rookie season… now that’s almost unexplainable. Francesca Enea started her professional career last season (2010) with the USSSA Florida Pride. Before the Pride she was a proud member and leader of the University of Florida Gators from 2007-2010. There, she helped head the Gators to three Women’s College World Series appearances. During the 2010 season Enea led the team and the Southeastern Conference with a .872 slugging percentage and 20 homeruns. On May 9, 2010, Enea hit her 61st career homerun, breaking the SEC record, and is second in the SEC with 64 RBIs for the 2010 regular season.
In her debut season with the Pride she played in 25 out of 57 games, acquiring time in the outfield. Out of the rookies, she was second in homeruns with 2.
Enea tells NPF fans about her rookie season and her expectations for the upcoming summer season…
Q: What was it like being a rookie in the NPF during the 2010 Season?
Enea: It is difficult to choose just one positive adjective to describe my rookie season in the NPF. Being surrounded by arguably the best softball players in the country was not only a perk but a learning experience within itself. The greatest part about the league is the compassion that all these women share for the sport of softball. It was amazing to see everyone’s devotion to the sport and the strides they would take to assure they improved every day. The biggest tool I learned from my first season is to respect the game by working hard for your team and yourself.
Q: What was it like winning an NPF Championship?
Enea: Winning an NPF championship was very rewarding for our team because it didn’t just come down to the final games at the Championship Series, it was a long tough journey we took as a team, and in the end it seemed a championship seemed inevitable.
Q: You were the only Player, beyond Coach/VP of the NPF Gaye Lynn Wilson, to attend every Back to School Tour Stop. Talk about the Fans on the Tour.
Enea: Being a part of the Back to School Tour was extremely rewarding on so many levels. The biggest impact the tour had was reaching out to our fan base across the country. We sold out and packed a plethora of venues. Whether it was a big time softball school or a new up and coming program. Also, we were able to spread the word of the NPF to all the college players, whose knowledge was fuzzy about opportunities for softball after college. As for the professionals that participated in the tour, it was great to know that we helped pioneer the sport and to get the support we needed for NPF.
Q: What was your favorite Tour stop and Why?
Enea: I do not think there was one stop I enjoyed more than the other, the tour as a whole was fabulous. If I had to pick one though I would choose San Diego State because my mom was able to see me play as a professional for the first time.
Q: What was it like going back to your alma mater and playing there during the B2S Tour?
Enea: When I saw that Florida was one of the tour stops I was immediately ecstatic! Playing at the University of Florida was hands down the best four years of my life and being able to go back to the Swamp and play as a professional was such a treat. My favorite moment was when I hit a home run, was running around the bases and as I turned to head to home plate I saw all my NPF teammates waiting for me and doing the gator chomp. They knew how special that moment was for me and even though some of the girls were old college rivals, they were not shy to give me a chomp!
Q: What was it like going back into some of your former SEC rival schools during the Tour?
Enea: Playing a few of my old SEC rivals brought out a little competitiveness in me. The last time I faced some of the teams I did not play my best, so I took it as my second chance, redemption some would say.
Q: What are you looking forward to for the 2011 Season?
Enea: The 2011 season is just around the corner and there are a lot of things I am looking forward too. With the success the league is having all eyes will be on NPF. It will be interesting to see all the great publicity and a new fan base we will draw in.
Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve on for the 2011 Season?
Enea: I had a quite humbling experience in 2010 as a rookie. I have stated before that one of the positives about the league is that you are playing with and against the best eighty girls in the nation, well that also entails that you are facing the best pitching, best defense, and most importantly the smartest. I look to improve on my swing and learn to control myself in the box.
Q: Did you play other sports growing up?
Enea: When I was growing up I was sort of a rebel without a cause. The only thing I loved to do and what made me sane was playing softball. I gave softball 100% everyday growing up, therefore never really had much time to focus on other sports.
Q: What are you doing during the NPF Off-season?
Enea: During the NPF off season I work in the USSSA office to help promote and market USSSA and the NPF. I am also an assistant coach at a local high school, which is a great way to share my devotion and passion for this sport I love so much. I hope one day the girls I coach will be playing professional softball comparable to what the MLB is like today.