Jenna Hall enjoying second season with Force
July 17, 2007
Allentown, Pa. - The Philadelphia Force is in its second season with the National Pro Fastpitch League and as the Force has grown in competitiveness in the league, so too has Illinois alum Jenna Hall.
Hall, a First Team All-American in 2006, joined the Force in its inaugural year as its starting first baseman where she earned all-League honors as a rookie. Following the completion of that season, she returned to Champaign to finish her degree and serve as a student assistant coach.
Unlike last season when Hall was coming off her senior season with the Fighting Illini, the challenge this season was getting back into game shape. "It was a challenge to get back going," Hall said. "I was in the same boat as many players who needed spring training to prepare for the season."
Hall has returned to heart of the Philadelphia line-up, but in a slightly different role - as designated player. The Force is 13-11 on the year. Hall is tied for the second on the club in at-bats (66) and RBI (11) and has tallied two home runs and one double. Her squeeze bunt was the difference in the Force's most recent victory, a 2-0 victory over the Stratford Brakettes.
Illinois' schedule throughout her career enabled her to face many of the players currently in the league in college. The Force pitching ace is Kristina Thorson from the University of California while recent Illinois State graduate Stacy Birk is also on staff. The New England Riptide features many other Big Ten stars including Michigan's Jessica Merchant and Northwestern's Garland Cooper and Eileen Canney.
"It's great to see the Big Ten well represented in the league," Hall said. "It's a sign of just how strong the conference has become in softball."
The NPF itself consists of six full-time teams - the Akron Races, the Chicago Bandits, the New England Riptide, the Force, the Rockford Thunder, and the Washington Glory. The league is expected to expand to eight teams next season including a team in Michigan. The teams also play some non-NPF regulars and several international teams. "We have great fan support in Allentown and really around the league," Hall said. "They have really embraced women's softball."
In addition to continuing her professional career, Hall is set to enter the teaching world where she hopes to use her experience to coach as well. "The experience this season working under coach Sullivan was valuable," Hall said. "It gave me a different perspective. I've learned a lot about the game."
Hall and the Force do not play in the Midwest during the regular season, which ends August 19. The four-team double elimination championship series is August 24-26 in Kimberly, Wis.