Aug. 30, 2010
HOUSTON - Former softball All-American Jessica Valis finished her first National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Champion Series on Saturday.
The four-time All-Conference USA selection signed a free agent contract with the Akron Racers in March and helped them to a 24-25 regular-season record and the No. 3 seed in the 2010 NPF Championship Series, Aug. 26-29.
After suffering a loss in Thursday's game to the second-seeded USSSA Pride in the first of the three-game series, the Racers bounced back to tie the series on Friday night.
Down by a run in the top of the third, Valis smacked a hard grounder to second base, scoring Jackie Pasquerella to put the Racers on the board in game two.
"It was much needed," Valis said. "I had been put in that situation several times in the past few weeks, and I needed to come through in a tight spot for my team. Especially when we had been struggling against a good team to put runs across (the plate)."
Valis and the Racers fell behind again before battling back to win, 3-2, handing softball icon Cat Osterman the loss and forcing Saturday's game three.
"It was a great feeling to challenge them," Valis said. "With all the big names they have on their team, we continued to battle with them. You can only pitch to those kind of players so many times before they start figuring you out and taking advantage."
The Pride did just that in the decisive third game of the series on Saturday, ending the Racers' playoff hopes with a 6-1 loss. Despite the early exit from her first professional postseason, Valis ended the tournament pleased with her performance and grateful for the opportunity.
"I couldn't have asked for more from my team," Valis said of Akron. "I was given a really good chance at shortstop early in the season and I was able to prove that I could field my position and I hit well early to earn my spot. I could've finished a little bit stronger, but overall, I am very happy with mine, and my team's, performance."