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Feb. 17, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In its third year of participation, the National Pro Fastpitch league held its annual draft Thursday and announced that the Akron Racers drafted South Carolina’s Ashley Smith as their fourth round pick. Smith, a senior catcher, is the first Gamecock to ever earn a draft pick.

The Portage, Mich. native was the fifth pick overall among the Senior College Selections for the Racers. Smith is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and a two-time SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year. She is fourth all-time among USC’s all-time home run leaders and is 11th all-time among USC RBI leaders.

Seven teams make up the NPF, including the Arizona Heat, Chicago Bandits, New England Riptide, Texas Thunder, Connecticut Brakettes and the Philadelphia Force. The season kicks off May 31, 2006 and runs through the summer.

Due to NCAA regulations, an active college senior-athlete may not sign with the respective franchise until the 2006 college season is finished. Players selected in the Senior Draft will be permitted to pursue any available roster spot on their assigned team after completing their college season. Senior draft rights expire August 31, 2006.

Following is a list of college players in order of selection:

1st Round:
Connecticut, Cat Osterman, P, Univ. of Texas
Philadelphia, Stephanie VanBrakle, P, Univ. of Alabama
Connecticut, Andrea Duran, 3B, UCLA
New England, Kristin Vesely, OF, Univ. of Oklahoma
Arizona, Alicia Hollowell, P, Univ. of Arizona
Akron, Jennie Ritter, P, Univ. of Mich
Texas, Emily Zaplatosch, C, UCLA
Akron, Caitlin Benyi, 2B, UCLA
Chicago traded with New England, Kristi Durant, 3B/C, Univ. of Tennessee

2nd Round:
Philadelphia, Sarah Fekete, OF, Univ. of Tennessee
Connecticut, Adrienne Alo, IF/OF, Oregon State
New England trade from 1st round with Chicago, Stacy May, 3B/SS, Univ. of Iowa (Chicago also gets New England’s 4th round pick next year)
Philadelphia, Harmony Schwethelm, OF/IF, Baylor
Texas, Serena Settlemier, P, Kansas University
Akron, Sara Larquier, 3B, Univ. of Virginia
Chicago, Amanda Williams, OF, Marshall University (West Virginia)

3rd Round:
Philadelphia, Haley Woods, C/1B, Cal Berkeley
Connecticut, Aimee Minor, OF, Univ. of Washington
New England, Tiffany Stewart, OF, Univ. of S. Florida
Arizona, Desiree Serrano, P, Arizona State
Texas, Krystal Lewallen, P, Univ. of Louisiana (Lafayette)
Akron, Lindsay James, OF, Cal Berkeley
Chicago traded with New England, Lisa Allen, C, Oregon State

4th Round:
Philadelphia, Courtnay Foster, P, Northwestern
Connecticut, Stephanie Hill, IF/OF, LSU
New England trade from 3rd round with Chicago, Missy Beseres, P, Penn State
Arizona, Lauren Lappin, IF/C, Stanford
Texas, Tina Boutelle, OF, Univ. of Texas
Akron, Ashley Smith, C, Univ. of South Carolina
Chicago, Jessica Williams, SS, Marshall University (West Virginia)