Florida right-hander Barnhill headlines Bandits’ 2019 draft class

Photo credit: University of Florida Athletics

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Chicago Bandits drafted University of Florida right-handed pitcher Kelly Barnhill with the first overall selection in the 2019 NPF Draft on Monday night in Nashville, Tennessee, marking the second year in a row the Bandits bolstered their pitching staff with the No. 1 pick.

A two-time NFCA All-American, Barnhill sports a miniscule 1.52 ERA this season and currently ranks first in career ERA (0.92) and strikeouts per seven innings (11.52) among all active NCAA softball players.

“Kelly has blown us away throughout her storied career at Florida,” Bandits general manager Toni Calmeyn said. “We feel like her best years are still ahead of her and we can’t wait to see what she brings to the Bandits this summer.”

Barnhill has enjoyed success on the international stage, as well. As a member of Team USA’s WBSC Women’s World Championship squad, the Marietta, Georgia, product earned gold medals in 2016 and 2018. Her 2018 performance featured seven innings of work in the circle to go along with eight strikeouts and a perfect 0.00 ERA.

The Bandits made five more selections throughout the draft. At No. 4 overall, Chicago took Georgia shortstop Alyssa DiCarlo. With the ninth overall pick in the second round, the franchise selected Caleigh Clifton, an infielder from the University of Oklahoma, followed by a pair of Kentucky infielders in Abbey Cheek and Katie Reed with the 14th and 19th picks, respectively. In the fifth round, the Bandits used their final selection on Savannah Heebner, a pitcher and utility player from the University of Houston.

DiCarlo became the fastest Bulldog to reach 20 home runs in a season April 7, beating the mark previously set by former Bulldog and Bandits standout Alisa Goler. The Glendale, Arizona, product also broke Georgia’s career record for extra-base hits (122) this season.

A 2018 Third Team NFCA All-American, DiCarlo currently paces the 19th-ranked Ducks with an outstanding .403 average and 20 home runs.

The Bandits’ second-round pick, Caleigh Clifton, ranks fourth in Oklahoma softball history in on-base percentage (.505), seventh in walks (118), ninth in stolen bases (46) and 10th in runs scored (165).

Clifton joins former Sooner and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Paige Lowary, on the Bandits’ roster. Both Clifton and Lowary proved to be key contributors throughout Oklahoma’s national championship season in 2017.

Cheek ranks within the top five in all of NCAA Division I softball in batting average, maintaining a robust .482 mark as of April 14.

The Inman, South Carolina, native broke Kentucky’s program record for career homers and RBI this season when she passed former Bandit Brittany Cervantes in the Wildcats’ record book.

Reed, the second Kentucky infielder drafted by the Bandits, garnered 2018 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors and also earned a spot on the 2017 NFCA All-America team.

She tied the Wildcats’ program record with six RBI in a single game after blasting a pair of three-run home runs March 15.

Heebner, an All-American in 2018, leads Houston’s pitching staff with 16 complete games and 84 strikeouts on the year. The right-hander has also chipped in six doubles and 15 RBI at the plate this season, showcasing her talent as both a pitcher and a hitter.

The four-time Cowles Cup champion Chicago Bandits will be back at Parkway Bank Sports Complex for the 2019 season. For more information about the Chicago Bandits or to reserve your season tickets, please visit chicagobandits.com or call the box office at 877-722-6348.

ABOUT CHICAGO BANDITS

Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of the National Pro Fastpitch league. Entering their 15th season as a franchise, the Bandits have provided the Chicago area with high-level softball talent and entertainment en route to capturing six regular-season titles and four Cowles Cup championships, the most recent coming during the 2016 campaign. Located in Rosemont, the Bandits play at Parkway Bank Sports Complex, one of the premier softball facilities in the nation. Parkway Bank Sports Complex is the only stadium in the country built exclusively for a women’s professional sports team. The Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch softball players to further their careers at the professional level and have included legendary figures such as Jennie Finch, Tammy Williams and Stacy May-Johnson.

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