Lindsey Hamma started every game at shortstop for four years at Illinois.
March 10, 2005
Urbana, Ill. - Lindsey Hamma says she has been blessed by having so many close friends on the Illini softball team. Between student teaching obligations, Hamma has had the opportunity to work out with many of her former teammates in hopes of continuing her playing days. All the extra work has paid off as the All-Big Ten selection and the Illini's all-time leading hitter signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch League.
The Bandits are one of six teams in the league and will play their games at a brand new $9.6 million Sports Complex in Lisle, Ill. Other teams in the league include the Akron Racers, the Arizona Heat, the New England Riptide, the New York/New Jersey Juggernauts, and the Texas Thunder. Each team will play a 48-game schedule, which will include 36 games at home - 24 vs. other teams in the league and 24 against foreign all-star teams.
Popular United States Olympic pitcher Jennie Finch highlights the roster for the Bandits, who are playing their first season in Chicago. When putting the team together, Bandits President and General Manager Bill Conroy tried to add some local flavor to the squad. The 20-member roster includes catcher Adie Viefhaus, third baseman Haley Viefhaus and pitcher Amy Harre of Southern Illinois; second baseman Liz Bouck and All-American pitcher Lindsay Chouinard from DePaul; outfielder Venus Taylor of Western Illinois; and outfielder Megan Clolli of Notre Dame. Hamma will compete with Bradley's Laura Harms for the shortstop spot.
"I've been impressed with the numbers Lindsey produced while at Illinois," said Conroy, who also serves as President and CEO of the NPF league. "I like her all-around game; she has a great bat, a great knowledge of the game, and has great energy. The fact that she is also a local product makes it that much better of a fit."
Hamma, who will wear number 19, did it all for Illinois, earning First Team All-Big Ten and All-Region honors while ranking 12th in the nation in batting in 2002. The First Team Academic All-District selection ranks first on Illinois' all-time list in batting average (.343), on-base percentage (.425), runs scored (115), and hits (195). Known also for her sparkling plays in the field, Hamma helped Illinois to two NCAA appearances, a second-place Big Ten finish and a Sweet 16 berth (in 2004) as part of the Illini's first graduating class.
"I'm excited for the opportunity," said Hamma, who had been waiting patiently for a call since open try-outs in Las Vegas in early December. "I had pretty much resigned to playing summer ball elsewhere until I heard from Mr. Conroy. To fulfill something that has been a goal of mine for a long time is really amazing."
Hamma will report on May 18 with the season opener slated for June 2. Until that time, she will finish student teaching at Jefferson Middle School in Champaign and spend the second half of the semester doing the same at Danville High School. "I'm thankful for the Illinois coaches and my former teammates for letting me continue to work out and keep me in game shape," Hamma added. "I have to hit the weights a little between now and spring training."