Alex Booker - Photo by Dina Kwit - Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
ROSEMONT, Ill. – November 14, 2014 - Chicago Bandits GM, Aaron M. Moore announced today the re-signing of shortstop Natalie Hernandez and outfielder Alex Booker for the 2015 season.
Both players made the 2014 roster by way of the team’s open tryouts, filling multiple roles throughout the season at their respective positions as well as pinch running/hitting situations.
Hernandez recorded the first hit, RBI and run scored of her professional career in just her second game in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF). She went on to finish out her rookie season with a .205 batting average including a .282 slugging percentage with five RBIs over 19 games.
The University of Illinois-Chicago grad was named to the 2014 All-Horizon League First Team after finishing her senior season for the Flames with a .413 batting average including a career high 12 home runs and 40 RBIs.
Hernandez, who watched the Bandits play throughout her college career, is looking forward to another season with the team.
“I’m so excited for the privilege to play in the NPF for another year. I’m blessed to not only be a Bandit, but to have the honor of playing in front of the best fans in softball.”
Hernandez is currently serving as a Graduate Assistant for the Robert Morris softball team in Chicago, Ill. where she is also working towards her MBA.
“Versatility’s an important factor that we look for as an organization and Natalie provides that for us,” said Moore. “Her ability and willingness to step into any role that we need to call on her for, whether it’s on or off the field, makes her a valuable asset to our roster so we are excited to have her back in a Bandits uniform for another season.”
A Big Ten conference product out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Booker joined the Bandits in June of 2014 after leaving an impression on the coaching staff during open tryouts prior to the season.
In her rookie campaign she recorded a .250 batting average with her first hit, a double, coming in a win over the Akron Racers in just her third game as a professional athlete. Her speediness off the bench paid off for the Bandits, as she successfully stole two bases with six runs scored.
The All-Big Ten Second Team selection enjoyed her best season for the Illini in 2014, hitting .371 on the season while collecting 62 hits including three home runs and 27 RBIs. She also set personal career highs in several categories including hits (62), doubles (7), triples (3) and total bases (86).
“I can’t thank the Chicago Bandits organization enough,” said Booker. “I’m excited to be a part of the sisterhood for another season.
“The experience that I was blessed to have last year was just the beginning. I’m eager to continue my career playing next to, and against, some of the best female athletes in the world as well as reconnecting with our community and growing our sport.”
Booker is also spending her offseason on the coaching side of the sport, serving as a graduate assistant for the Texas A&M University – Commerce softball team in Commerce, Tex.
“Alex has been a huge asset for us just in terms of the speed she brings, which is helpful late in the season as we push towards the Championships,” said Moore. “Being a local girl, she takes full advantage of every opportunity she gets on and off the field to grow the sport which is important to us as an organization.”
Season ticket and Bandits of Tomorrow packages for the 2015 season are available now by calling the office at (877) 7BANDIT or visiting www.chicagobandits.com.
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. Located in Rosemont, the Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch players to further their careers at a professional level, and the roster has included such names as Jennie Finch, Stacy May-Johnson and Monica Abbott. The two-time NPF Champions, who are owned by Bill Sokolis, play at The Ballpark at Rosemont, the only stadium in the country built for a women's professional team. The 2015 season will be the Bandits 11th season in the NPF.
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball and has been since 2002.