Kissimmee, FL-June 6, 2016- The USSSA Florida Pride is pleased to announce the signing of former Florida Gator outfielder Kirsti Merritt to a two-year contract. Kirsti, a two-time NCAA Champion with Florida, was selected 25th overall in the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Draft.
“I’m really excited to be joining the USSSA Pride. It is such an honor to be able to put on the Pride uniform,” said Merritt.
Kirsti Merritt was an integral part of Florida’s decorated senior class who won back-to-back National titles in 2014 and 2015. A stand out in the 2014 Women’s College World Series (WCWS), Kirsti blasted a three-run homer in Game 2 to help Florida clinch the win against Alabama and earn the school’s first National Championship in program history.
Merritt’s career accolades include All-SEC Second Team (2016), NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team (2015), All-SEC First Team (2015), NFCA All-Southeast Region Third Team (2014), WCWS All-Tournament Team selection (2014) and two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll (2015 & 2014).
In 2013, Kirsti became the first freshmen in the SEC to be named the SEC Tournament MVP. Merritt was named to the 2013 SEC All-Freshman Team and the 2013 SEC All-Tournament Team. In her final season with the Gators, Merritt finished with a.318 average, eight homers and 47 RBIs. Her career stats include a .306 batting average, 205 hits, 36 home runs and 170 RBIs.
Defensively, Merritt was one of the best outfielders in the country the past four years. She anchored Florida’s outfield with highlight reel catches and game-saving plays. Besides her talent on the field, Kirsti hopes to bring her positive energy to the field and looks forward to playing alongside some amazing players and competing against some of the best in the game.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kirsti Merritt to the USSSA Pride,” commented General Manager Don DeDonatis. “The opportunity to add another seasoned SEC player who spent four years under the guidance of Florida Head Coach Tim Walton will only solidify our roster and we look forward to watching her talent shine at this level of play.”
Kirsti joins former Florida teammates Hannah Rogers and Kelsey Stewart this summer in pursuit of their first Cowles Cup Championship as Pride teammates. In 2014, the trio won their first ever WCWS title and in 2015 Merritt and Stewart added back-to-back champions to their illustrious resumes.
“There aren’t very many better athletes in the country, there aren’t very many better competitors in the country and there aren’t very many better center fielders in the game of softball. In whatever role she is used–a pinch runner, a pinch hitter or a defensive specialist–she’s going to help the USSSA Pride get better,” commented Florida Head Coach Tim Walton.
The Pride kick-off the season this Friday, June 10th where they will take on the Scrap Yard Dawgs in their 2016 season opener! First pitch is set for 8:30 pm (EST). Follow live game updates all season long on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
About USSSA Florida Pride: The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
About USSSA: USSSA is headquartered in Osceola County, Florida. USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF): National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The 2016 NPF season will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Coverage includes the NPF College Draft presented by Bownet on Thur., April 14, followed by 23 regular-season games, a Championship Series Preview Special and the 2016 NPF Championship Series. The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.