Birk, Philadelphia Conclude 2007 NPF Season
Aug. 22, 2007
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Following an illustrious collegiate career, former Illinois State softball pitcher Stacy Birk wrapped-up her rookie season with the Philadelphia Force of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league Sunday night, as Philadelphia lost an extra-inning affair to the New England Riptide, 3-2, in eight innings. Philadelphia ended the season tied with Rockford for fourth place in the NPF league standings but was excluded from the league playoffs because Rockford owned the tie-breaker advantage over the Force.
While Birk made just one appearance in Philadelphia's final series of the season, pitching a single inning of relief in a 10-2 loss to New England Thursday, her first season in professional fastpitch softball proved to be an exciting and positive experience for the winningest pitcher in Illinois State softball history.
"My time with Philadelphia and the NPF league was amazing," said Birk. "It was the summer of a lifetime for me, my team and my coaches. All of it was just amazing."
Birk compiled a 3-6 record with a 5.79 earned-run average (ERA). She made 10 starts, completing three of those games. Pitching 53.2 innings, Birk gave up the fewest walks among Philadelphia starting pitchers, allowing just 17 opposing base runners to reach base via a free pass. She was third on the team in strikeouts with 27.
Birk ranked within the top-20 of the league pitching statistics in two categories. Her three wins on the season tied for 10th in the league with Rockford's Amanda Freed, and her 27 strikeouts ranked 19th.
While Birk struggled to pick up a win throughout much of late July and early August, she was nearly flawless when it came to her control in the circle during that time period. The right-hander from Huntington Beach, Calif., gave up just four walks over her final five starts, with two of those base on balls coming in a 16-3 drubbing at the hands of the Akron Racers on Aug. 3.
Despite the Force not making the NPF league playoffs, Birk still believes that her first season in professional fastpitch softball was a successful one, both for herself and for her Philadelphia teammates.
"After we struggled to start the season and no one around the league expected much out of us, I really felt like we fought back and made a strong run at the end of the season," said Birk. "Personally, it was a great learning experience for me, and I felt like I contributed to the team in a beneficial way.
"Playing at ISU under the guidance of (head coach) Melinda (Fischer) and (assistant coach) Tina (Kramos) and the rest of the coaching staff definitely prepared me for the NPF league. They run a tight ship, and they helped prepare me for my first season of professional softball."
The NPF league playoffs run Aug. 24-26 at Sunset Park in Kimberly, Wis. After winning the regular-season title as an expansion team, Washington enters the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Akron, New England and Rockford round out the second through fourth seeds in the double-elimination tournament.
For more information about the NPF league, please visit www.profastpitch.com. More information about Stacy Birk's rookie season in the NPF league can be found on the Philadelphia Force's Web site at www.philadelphiaforce.com.