NASHVILLE - - Ball State softball senior outfielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) became the first player in program history to be drafted in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league when she was selected by the Akron Racers with the 10th overall pick Monday evening.
Gilbert is only the second Mid-American Conference player to be drafted since 2007, joining former Kent State pitcher Britteny Robinson (2004-07) who was also selected by the Akron Racers with the 25th overall pick in the 2007 draft. Gilbert was a third-round choice for the Racers this season, while Robinson was a fourth-round selection in 2007.
“This is a very exciting day for Jenny,” Ball State head coach Tyra Perry said. “She has put in a lot of hard work to get to this point in her career and is very deserving of this opportunity. We are extremely proud of her and cannot wait to follow her throughout her professional career.”
Due to NCAA regulations, an active college senior-athlete is not eligible to sign with her respective franchise until her 2014 college season is finished. If Gilbert were to sign and play professionally for the Racers, she would become the first Ball State student-athlete and just the 20th player in MAC history to play in the league.
Gilbert entered the 2014 National Pro Fastpitch College Draft as the MAC career record holder and NCAA Division I active career leader in runs batted in (220), runs scored (191) and home runs (66). Her 56 career doubles are also tops among all active NCAA Division I players, while her 245 hits rank seventh and her .794 slugging percentage and 651 at bats are both ninth-most among active players.
The first All-American in program history, after being named to the 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Third Team, Gilbert is the two-time reigning MAC Player of the Year. She has helped guide the Cardinals to back-to-back MAC regular season titles (2012 and 2013), and a 48-14 league mark over her career.
In 2014, the Cardinals enter Tuesday’s game at Notre Dame with an 18-11 overall record, including a 3-0 victory over then-No. 3 Arizona State in which Gilbert drove in two of Ball State’s three runs.
A 10-time career MAC West Division Player of the Week, including twice so far this season, Gilbert blasted her 66th career home run versus North Dakota State (March 22) to become the NCAA’s career home run leader among Canadian-born players, passing fellow Canadian National Team player Jen Yee. Yee totaled 65 career home runs while playing for Niagara (2006-07) and Georgia Tech (2009-10). The overall NCAA career home run record is 90 held by former UCLA slugger Stacey Nuveman (1997, 99, 2001-02).
A member of the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List and a candidate for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, Gilbert finished the 2013 season ranked 11th nationally with a MAC single season record .451 batting average, while her school record .936 slugging percentage ranked fifth nationally.
For the most up-to-date news on Ball State softball, follow the team on Twitter: @BallStateSB and @TyraPerry13/ Instagram: ballstatesb / Facebook: BallStateSoftball
About National Pro Fastpitch
National Pro Fastpitch 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 since 2002.
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