NPF Report #1: Birk, Nicholson Struggle in Week One
June 12, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - While summer will not officially begin for another eight days, a form of summer fun has already begun for former Illinois State standout softball pitchers Stacy Birk and Shannon Nicholson, as the duo both play professionally in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. Birk, a second-year member of the Philadelphia Force, and Nicholson, a first-year member of the Akron Racers, both started their respective 2008 NPF seasons last week.
Pitching as a starter for the NPF-leading Force (6-2), Birk is 0-1 on the young season with a 9.51 ERA in two starts. After she earned a no-decision in Philadelphia's 5-2 exhibition victory over the Netherlands National Team May 30, Birk earned her second start of the season June 5 against the New England Riptide, which also marked her first outing against a NPF team in 2008.
In the New England matchup, Birk pitched 4 2/3 innings, where she surrendered eight runs (all earned) on eight hits and four walks in an 8-2 loss to the Riptide.
Nicholson's first-career action as a professional softball player actually came at first base, a position that she played at sparingly as a Redbird from 2004-07. The right-hander from Chatham, Ill., made her first-career appearance in the top of the fourth inning of Akron's June 6 game versus Chicago. She then earned her first-career start in the circle for the Racers June 9, where she suffered the loss in a 14-1 setback to the Bandits. Nicholson allowed five runs (all earned) on nine hits and six walks in the loss.
For the season, Nicholson is 0-1 with an 8.03 ERA in two appearances. Akron is in last place in the six-team NPF standings with a 1-4 record.