Kelly Kretschman Photo by Jade Hewitt Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
NASHVILLE, TN (Aug 15, 2016) –In its 13th season of existence, the National Pro Fastpitch League played host to a first-time accomplishment by a veteran who has been with the league for all but two of those seasons.
USSSA Pride outfielder, Kelly Kretschman, who will turn 37 this month, has put up a performance unmatched by no other player in the history of NPF. In her 11th professional season, she has won the Triple Crown.
Along the way, as she has honed and sharpened her skills, Kretschman seems to have discovered her own secret to success in a lighthearted, casual-demeanor approach, contrasted with a laser-focused concentration on one pitch at a time. It is serving her well.
To be the first to accomplish anything of note offensively, in a league that lists among its alumnae the likes of Crystl Bustos, Jessica Mendoza, Stacey Nuveman, Iyhia McMichael and Stacy May, is a feat in itself. Doing it at nearly 37 years of age is a statement of discipline and commitment.
“My age has helped me learn to play the game better,” commented Kretschman. “I’m smarter in taking care of my body in the off season and in preparing for the rigorous schedule of the NPF. I am also a better player mentally with both my initial approach and my willingness to abandon my plan, if necessary, even in the middle of an at bat. All of that came with my maturity as a player.”
Kretschman’s leadership has been a difference-maker on a Pride roster that saw the exit of three impactful veterans following the 2015 season, in Cat Osterman, Natasha Watley and Megan Willis. The tone she set day-to-day with her outstanding player performances inevitably led the USSSA Pride to their 5th regular season title.
The Pride right fielder spent the majority of her at bats this season in the lineup’s second position. From that lineup seat, she hand-delivered the league-leading statistics in the categories that comprise the Triple Crown - .466 average, 45 RBI, and 13 home runs.
“It’s an honor and an accomplishment that I never expected to be the one to get,” said Kretschman. “There is no question that hitting behind (Megan) Wiggins and in front of Shelby (Pendley) has enabled me throughout the season.”
It would be unfair to limit the assessment of Kretschman’s 2016 season only to the Triple Crown categories. Kretschman’s crown collection for 2016 actually encompasses a stack of seven. In addition to the categories of average, home runs and RBI, she also led the league in the primary statistical categories of runs (42), on-base percentage (.563) and slugging percentage (.827). As exclamation points, she tied in hits (62) and finished only two stolen bases behind the league lead, swiping 13 of 15 attempted.
Kretschman might not be done yet with 2016 record-setting performances. Upon the conclusion of the regular season, she sits at third all-time in regular season batting average behind Natasha Watley at .481 and Kristen Zaleski at .475. But in the category of season batting average including postseason, Kretschman is stalking Zaleski’s .468 mark with at least two post season games remaining.
With their 5th regular season title behind them, Kretschman’s USSSA Pride will head to Tuscaloosa, Alabama this week to compete in the league’s hallmark event, Championship Series. As the Series kicks off Friday, the Pride will attempt to set a record of their own, in returning the coveted Cowles Cup to Florida with what would be a league-leading fourth championship. On the heels of a record-setting season for Kretschman, it is likely her eyes will be on that prize alone.
About National Pro Fastpitch (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.