The 2017 NPF Draft took place last week on Monday, April 24th in Nashville, Tennessee. 26 college seniors from all across the country were picked one at a time by the five teams that make up the National Professional Fastpitch League. The 2017 NPF season begins June 1st, and the whirlwind summer of competitive softball played at the highest level is in full swing until the end of August. This year’s NPF draft got a lot of attention, with many big named college softball players selected by teams to play in the league. Even after the conclusion of the draft, the teams are not yet finalized for the summer. There is a tryout opportunity offered by teams (with open roster spots) for those college seniors who may have slipped under the radar.
Brittany Cervantes has been a part of the NPF for the past six seasons. Hailing from Kentucky, Cervantes tried out for the Chicago Bandits of the NPF in 2012 and made the roster. “I remember watching the draft at home on my computer wondering who all was going to be selected,” recalled Cervantes, “I honestly didn’t know if I was going to get drafted but I was okay with it because I had already told myself if things didn’t work out that night that I was going to tryout for the Chicago Bandits.”
Since her rookie season, Cervantes has been named the 2016 Cowles Cup MVP, won back-to-back league championships as a staple player for the Bandits, is a two-time All-NPF selection, a 2015 NPF Offensive Player of the Year recipient, the 2014 Chicago Bandits Offensive Player of the Year and Worth Home Run Award winner- when she led the league with 12 homers in 2014.
Cervantes has become one of the most decorated and respected hitters in the NPF league. All because she had the drive and courage to chase after her dreams. “When I played in my last game at Kentucky, I knew deep down I wasn’t done playing yet. I still felt like I had more to give and that fact that there was an opportunity to keep playing with and against some of the best, I couldn’t pass it up”, said Cervantes.
Following the conclusion of the 2015 NPF season, Cervantes was invited to play in the Japan league overseas, where many other top Professional players spend their off-season months competing. Cervantes has been given many softball opportunities outside of being a Professional. Playing in the NPF, led me to my first college coaching job at Loyola University in Chicago and also gave me the opportunity that I have now, that is playing in Japan,” said Cervantes.
Brittany Cervantes will be taking the field in the NPF this upcoming 2017 season wearing a different jersey. Over the off-season, Cervantes was traded to the Scrap Yard Dawgs and will be reunited on the field with former Bandit teammate and Olympian, Monica Abbott. “If I could go back to college with the knowledge I have now, that would be fun. I’ve gotten to play with and against former Olympians which I would never have believed could happen and I have made new friendships with former college conference rivals”, joked Cervantes who came from the SEC conference and has made friends with several Big Ten teammates since.
None of these opportunities would have existed for Cervantes if she hadn’t followed her heart and tried out for an NPF team following the conclusion of her senior college season. Cervantes encourages other players to follow their dreams and take a chance because you never really know how something can work out until you try. “Playing in the NPF has helped me become an even better softball player, and has given me opportunities that I am incredibly thankful for.”
Feature Image by: Dina Kwit, Chicago Bandits Photographer