Pitcher Monica Abbott becomes 'Million Dollar Baby'

Pitcher Monica Abbott becomes 'Million Dollar Baby'
Chicago Bandits Pitcher Monica Abbott and Outfielder Amanda Williams show off their 2011 NPF Championship rings.

The Chicago Bandits are saying farewell to ace pitcher Monica Abbott. But she’ll be crying all the way to the bank.

Abbott, age 30, made history on Thursday, signing a six year deal with the expansion Houston Scrap Yard Dawgs for a cool million dollars. The move makes her the highest-paid player in National Pro Fastpitch (NPF,) and the nominal ‘face’ of the NPF.

According to ESPN, the deal is structured so Abbott can earn her money in bonuses. Under the rules of the NPF, she and other top players can make no more than $20,000 per year in the NPF.

After the deal was announced, she tweeted:

 Anything can happen! This proves it! #monicamakeshistory #BreakingBarriers

Abbott is coming off of a stellar year, ln 2015, she allowed only 4 earned runs all season and held opponents to a .108 batting average. Abbott also led the Bandits to Cowles Cup championships in 2013 and 2015 and was named NPF Pitcher of the Year in 2012 and 2015,  and MVP of the NPF Championships in 2015.

No statement was forthcoming from the Chicago Bandits, who signed Abbott in 2009.

After the deal was announced, I tweeted my congratulations to Monica Abbott ‏@monicaabbott , who retweeted me and responded:

“Chicago holds a special place in my heart”

Monica Abbott, who signed the NPF’s first million-dollar deal on May 5th

'Million Dollar Baby' Monica Abbott

‘Million Dollar Baby’ Monica Abbott

General Manager Connie May announced the deal.

“We are very excited to have the number one pitcher in the world in Houston for the next six years. We have worked very hard to put a solid team on the field and Monica will be the final piece to this puzzle to give us the best opportunity to compete for the Cowles Cup in our inaugural season.”

Connie May, Houston Scrap Yard Dogs General Manager

Abbott is the first pitcher in the NPF’s 13-year history to earn $1 million. The move is being hailed as a step forward for softball and women’s sports in general.

“I think it’s a proud moment for National Pro Fastpitch,” league Commissioner Cheri Kempf told ESPN. “But I think it goes further than that. I think it’s a proud moment for women in professional sports in this country. I feel glad that it’s happening in the league. I’m glad that we’re going to lead the way, in some respects.”

“I am thrilled to be able to help lead the Scrap Yard Dawgs in the NPF this year,” said Abbott in a statement. “It is an incredible honor to represent a first class organization and I look forward to finishing out my career there over the next 6 years and helping make the Scrap Yard Dawgs a household name in the local, national, and international community.”

The Scrap Yard Dawgs brings the number of NPF teams to six:

2016 NPF TEAMS W L GB Home Away
Dallas Charge
0 0 0 0-0 0-0
0 0 0 0-0 0-0
Akron Racers
0 0 0 0-0 0-0
Pennsylvania Rebellion
0 0 0 0-0 0-0
Chicago Bandits
0 0 0 0-0 0-0
Scrap Yard Dawgs
0 0 0 0-0 0

A Santa Cruz, California native, Abbott is beginning her ninth season. She was drafted by the Washington Glory in 2007 where she led the Glory to their first and only Cowles Cup Championship.

Abbott took a year off from the NPF to play in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing with Team USA, earning a Silver Medal in 2008. She threw the first-ever perfect game in Olympic history against the Netherlands. Following the Olympics in 2010, Abbott helped Team USA go on to become World Championship Gold Medalists as well World Cup Champions. Along with winning Team USA Gold in 2010, Abbott had a stand out season in the Japan Softball League with Toyota where they were the All Japan Tournament Champions as well as League Champions. She led the league in both strikeouts and ERA, was named Japan Softball League MVP, and threw a perfect game in the Final to win the championship. She went on to help Toyota win the League Championship three more times in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was also named league MVP in 2011 and 2012.

Prior to entering the Pros, Abbott shattered records in the NCAA during her four years at the University of Tennessee (2003-2007). She was a four time NFCA First Team All-American, a four-time All-SEC Selection, and the only three-time SEC Pitcher of the Year in history. In 2004 she was named SEC Freshman of the Year and then as a senior in 2007 she was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. In addition to these awards, Abbott holds NCAA Division 1 records for career strikeouts (2,440), wins (189), shutouts (112), appearances (253) and single-season strikeouts (724).

Ironically, her first game for the Scrap Yard Dawgs will be at her former NPF home. The Scrap Yard Dawgs open their season at the Ballpark at Rosemont on June 2. To see Abbott’s return to the Ballpark, go to the Bandit’s website, www.chicagobandits.com



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