Women's Professional Fastpitch: USSSA Pride Preview

Women's Professional Fastpitch: USSSA Pride Preview

The USSSA Pride embark on the 2023 Women's Professional Fastpitch season with a blend of pro veterans and recent college stars, built for contention.

Jun 26, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
Women's Professional Fastpitch: USSSA Pride Preview

The addition of one of college softball's most dominant pitchers, Megan Faraimo, to a roster already stocked with some of the game's best, made an emphatic statement about the championship bona fides of the USSSA Pride in 2023. 

But while this marks the inaugural season of Women's Professional Fastpitch, the USSSA Pride organization is not new to title contention. 

Launched in 2009, the USSSA Pride were fixtures of the National Pro Fastpitch league from 2009 through 2019. The club won NPF regular-season championships seven times and claimed the Cowles Cup five. 

As the USSSA Pride aim to carry that dominance into WPF, the franchise builds around some returners from that past championship glory, while welcoming into the fold standout newcomers poised to make their own impact on the pro ranks. 


USSSA Pride's well-established reputation for excellence lends immediate credibility to the strength of WPF. 

The Viera, Florida-based club's dominance in the NPF was unparalleled for the duration of the league and ranks among the very best decades of any professional team sport in the United States in recent memory. 

One of USSSA Pride's stars in the NPF years, Kelly Kretschman, is the team's head coach in 2023. 

Kretschman's playing career is loaded with accomplishments, including a a record-setting All-America college tenure at Alabama, winning a gold medal at the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, and earning three NPF Most Valuable Player Awards. 

Kretschman brings collegiate coaching experience into her new role at the professional ranks, too. 

The Pride play at USSSA Space Coast Stadium, the organization's home since 2017 and the former Spring Training venue of the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. 


Though a few years, a once-in-a-century global pandemic and a new league separate USSSA Pride from its last championship, the roster features holdovers from that championship-winning team. 

Pitcher Jailyn Ford, a product of James Madison University, compiled a 4-0 record in the Pride's 2018 title run. 

She heads up a pitching staff rife with standout college performers, including 2023 first-round draft pick Megan Faraimo, the UCLA All-American who produced a 1.42 ERA over 172 innings of work in the recent NCAA season. 

Faraimo joins another former Bruin, Ally Carda, and a fellow Pac-12 standout in former Washington Huskies star Taran Alvelo. 

USSSA Pride's pitching staff also features Australian Ellen Roberts, a star in international competition and an All-American Athletic Conference performer at Memphis. 

Another member of the staff, Hope Trautwein, was an outstanding addition to Oklahoma's Women's College World Series-winning roster in 2022. 

Trautwein posted a 0.77 ERA in 126 2/3 innings for the Sooners a year ago and was named to the WCWS All-Tournament team. 

Representing another generation of Oklahoma Sooners softball — and joining Ford in representing USSSA Pride's championship past as it sets in pursuit of a winning future — Shelby Pendley is one of the club's veteran leaders. 

Pendley hits eight home runs in 2018 and 30 for her tenure in NPF. 

She isn't the only proven professional slugger of the lineup. 

Abbey Cheek, the NPF Rookie of the Year in 2019, holds the University of Kentucky's all-time home-run record and already is off to the races as a power hitter early into 2023 for the Pride. 

Draft Picks

USSSA Pride concluded the first round of the 2023 WPF draft taking Faraimo, the three-time All-American, 2020 National Pitcher of the Year and 2022 WCWS All-Tournament honoree. 

In the second round, the club selected Kayla Kowalik. 

The University of Kentucky catcher was an All-SEC selection for her outstanding work behind and at the plate. 

Kowalik batted .442 with a 1.062 OPS in the 2023 college season. 

The Pride added another couple of Pac-12 products to join Faraimo in the third and fourth round, taking her UCLA teammate and pitching-staff partner Brooke Yanez, and Yanez's former Oregon teammate Allee Bunker. 

Bunker hit .383 and produced a streak of games with at least a knock lasting more than a month in the recent college season. 

Coming off a 12-home run campaign, Clemson's Caroline Jacobsen landed with USSSA Pride in the fifth round. 

Catcher Jordyn Rudd, the 2022 National Defensive Player of the Year out of Northwestern, rounds out USSSA Pride's 2023 draft as the sixth-round selection.