ALLENTOWN, Pa.- The Philadelphia Force have announced their NPF Draft picks for the 2008 season. The Force had four selections in the draft consisting of college seniors. Resulting in an off-season trade with Chicago, the Force had the first overall pick which they used by selecting Katie Burkhart, a dominating pitcher from Arizona State University. With the second pick of the draft, the Force called on skilled pitcher/first baseman Megan Gibson out of Texas A&M University. Philadelphia rounded out their draft by selecting Oklahoma University's shortstop Savannah Long, and Tory Yamaguchi, a catcher from Indiana University.
Before starting her senior season for ASU, Burkhart holds nearly every pitching record in Sun Devil history. In 2007, she set new ASU records when she posted a 1.11 ERA, won 35 games, and recorded 517 strikeouts. Her strikeouts in a season ranks ninth on the all-time NCAA list. Her three-year total of 1,157 strikeouts is a school record, and Burkhart still has her senior year to build on it. She was one of the ten finalists for the 2007 USA Softball's National Player of the Year award, and pitched the first perfect game in school history on March 15, 2007. Burkhart has been won many awards and accolades in her outstanding college career such as the PAC 10 Pitcher of the Year, NFCA First-Team All American, USA Player of the Week, and was a member of the 2006 gold-medal winning 2006 USA World University Games' team. Burkhart is no stranger to Allentown and the Force. In the summer of 2007, she pitched against the Force as a member of the ASA's Stratford Brakettes. In that game, she yielded two runs, one earned, and strikeout six while picking up the win.
As a junior for Texas A&M, Gibson started in all 60 games with 25 of them in the circle for the Aggies. As a pitcher, she compiled a 17-4 record with a 1.54 ERA. Gibson pitched 14 complete games and posted eight shutouts. She struck out 157 batters in 155 innings of work. Gibson was just as dominate at the plate for the Aggies. She posted a .388 batting average and slammed 13 home runs, both were team bests. Gibson was second on the team in runs scored with 50, and led the team with a .741 slugging percentage. On her career, she is the Texas A&M record holder in walks (118), and home runs (43). The Spring, Texas-native is a two-time NFCA All-American and has been named to the All-Big 12 team and the NFCA Midwest Regional All-Region team each of her three years of colligate softball. When not in the circle for the Aggies, Gibson is team's first baseman. The right-hander is a four-year letter winner at Spring High School, where she set a school record with 386 strikeouts in a single season.
Through her junior season at OU, Long is a .251 collegiate hitter with 15 home runs. In 2007, she was named to All-Big 12 Tournament Team due to .750 hitting performance during the conference playoffs. Long has driven in 73 runs for the Sooners, including 40 in her sophomore season in which she started all of the team's 62 games. She is an outstanding defender (.961 fielding percentage while at OU) who was moved from second base to shortstop in the second half of the 2006 season. Long, who displays a strong arm, helped OU turn 17 double plays during her sophomore year.
During her junior year at Indiana University, Yamaguchi appeared in 53 games. She started 35 games as a catcher, and 17 as the designated player. Her .295 batting average was second on the club, and she led the squad with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs. Yamaguchi finished 2007 with a team high .597 slugging percentage, and .988 fielding percentage in 162 chances. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten performer, Yamaguchi is second on the school's all-time home run list with 33.
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