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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Fox signs with Chicago Bandits

    Fox signs with Chicago Bandits

    After facing each other on the diamond in four games during the Women’s College World Series, Arizona shortstop Kristie Fox and Tennessee’s Lindsay Schutzler will wear the same uniform Saturday.

    Both members of this year’s WCWS All-Tournament team, they have signed contracts with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch league.

    “”I find that unique for them to be able to play together so soon,”” Bandits co-head coach Mickey Dean said yesterday. “”Of course we’re looking forward to that because we feel like they were the best players on their respective teams.””

    Schutzler was the first pick overall in this year’s NPF draft Feb. 14, while Fox was the Bandits’ second pick and fifth overall. Neither were able to sign with the Bandits until their college seasons were over.

    Both Fox and Schutzler, an outfielder, are currently in Tula Vista, Calif. trying out for the Olympic softball team, along with Wildcat center fielder Caitlin Lowe. UA head coach Mike Candrea will coach the team in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

    “”All three of these girls are here because they are good enough to be on the team,”” Candrea said yesterday. “”And certainly, Kristie and Lindsay are well qualified to be part of a professional softball organization.””

    Fox hit .342 this season, including a .500 (11-for-22) mark during the WCWS. She started all 65 games for Arizona and led the Wildcats in doubles (16), home runs (15), RBIs (63), slugging percentage (.668) and walks (34).

    Schutzler, an ESPN the Magazine first-team Academic All-American and the University Division Player of the Year, hit .392 in 71 games. She also swiped 39 bases in 47 attempts.

    “”Schutzler is the speed player,”” Dean said. “”Fox is the power player. She has the ability to hit the ball out of the park with any swing of the bat. Both of them, with all of their experience in big games, will help us out tremendously.””

    Schutzler made her Bandits debut Sunday, going 1-for-3 with a triple and a RBI in a 4-3 loss to the Akron Racers.

    “”It was a good start for her,”” Dean said. “”That hit was actually a double that she stretched into a triple. The other two hits were line-drive outs. It’s nice to have her pop in the bat and her speed.””

    With the talent Schutzler possesses, the Wildcats are glad to have her sister, Lauren, on their roster for next season, said UA assistant coach Larry Ray.

    “”I’ve watched (Lindsay) since she was in youth ball,”” Ray said. “”I wish she would have been a Wildcat as opposed to a Volunteer, but she’s an outstanding player. I’m excited to see her sister play with us.””

    On Saturday, Fox and Schutzler will fly into Chicago – where Fox’s mother, Jennifer, was once a cheerleader for the Bears – to face the Rockford Thunder. Former Wildcat Jennie Finch (1-1) is slated to start for the Bandits. Another former Wildcat, Autumn Champion, is also on the team after the Arizona Heat folded last summer.

    The presence of former Wildcats will make Fox’s transition from college to pro softball smoother, Dean said.

    “”I think it’s easier if you know someone on the team or can relate to someone on the team,”” he said.

    Finch said the production of NPF players from Arizona is due to the college program Candrea has built.

    “”As a little girl you dream of competing at the highest level,”” she said in a phone interview May 4. “”The University of Arizona does that, and you know you’ll be competing for a national championship each year. It’s exciting for myself to have other Wildcats head out northeast and play in Chicago. Chicago is a great sports town, and they love winners. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play with these other Wildcats.””

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