SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The sensational softball career of former Sacramento State center fielder Lindy Winkler will continue into the professional ranks as she was signed today by the New England Riptide of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) League.
Winkler will begin playing with the Riptide immediately as the squad’s season opener was scheduled to begin last week against the Stratford Brakettes, but the four-game series was rained out. The team’s season opener is now slated for Thursday, June 8, at home against Jennie Finch and the Chicago Bandits.
Winkler will become the second Sacramento State softball athlete to play for the league, joining Katie Cichy who played for the Durham Dragons in 1999. Former Hornet Nicole Deatherage was drafted by Sacramento Sunbirds in 2003, but never played.
The National Pro Fastpitch League is beginning its 12th year of existence, beginning in 1995 as the Women’s Pro Fastpitch League. Currently, the seven-team league consists of the Riptide, Brakettes, Bandits, Philadelphia Force, Akron Racers, Texas Thunder and the Arizona Heat. The league’s season began last weekend and concludes with playoffs at the end of August.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to play at the professional level,” Winkler said. “The league features the highest level of competition, and I’m looking forward to facing the country’s elite pitchers.”
Winkler just concluded a brilliant 2006 season which saw the senior cement herself as one of the greatest players in Sacramento State softball history after earning second team All-American, Pacific Coast Softball Conference Player of the Year, and first team all-West Region honors. She became the fourth Sacramento State softball player to earn All-American honors since the program joined the Div. I ranks in 1990.
“I am absolutely thrilled for Lindy, and going pro is a fitting end to her collegiate career,” Sacramento State head coach Kathy Strahan said. “Lindy is the definition of a coach’s dream. She is not only one of the best athletes, but also one of the finest human beings I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching.
“I am confident that Lindy will be up to the challenge, and it will be nice to have a representative from Sacramento State at the pro level.”
Winkler became the first Hornet to earn first team all-region accolades since 1997, and her conference player of the year award marked the first time a Sacramento State softball player had earned league MVP honors during the Div. I era.
The San Andreas, Calif., native recently concluded a 2006 senior season in which she set six school records. Winkler established Sacramento State Div. I season records in batting average (.434), longest hitting streak (18 games), runs (47), hits (76), doubles (17) and stolen bases (11). Her batting average was 40 points better than any other player in the PCSC and ranked as the 12th-best mark in the nation. She also led or was tied for the conference lead in runs, hits, doubles, triples (5) and stolen bases. Her average of 0.31 doubles per game ranked as the 27th-best mark in the nation.
She hit safely in 47 of 55 games and batted .462 against conference opposition with a .527 on-base percentage. Winkler, who was the only Hornet to start all 55 games during the season, did not commit an error all year and had just five miscues during her entire career. A career .358 hitter and a four-time all-conference selection, Winkler started all but two games during her four-year tenure with the Hornets, and owns school records in career batting average, hits (262), runs (140), stolen bases (32), games started (222), triples (17) and at-bats (732).
Winkler played a large role in Sacramento State completing a season in which the team posted a 35-20 overall record and a 14-6 mark in the PCSC. The Hornets, who recorded the most wins since the 1995 season, were narrowly edged by Portland State (15-5) for the conference championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals. In fact, Sacramento State swept Portland State in a four-game series on May 6-7, but the Vikings won three makeup games against Loyola Marymount the following week to overtake the Hornets for the league title.
Winkler was also instrumental in the success of the Sacramento State softball program over the last four years. In the three seasons prior to Winkler’s arrival, the Hornets were a combined 60-100. Since her freshman year (2003), however, Sacramento State combined for a 127-97 record, including four-consecutive 30-win seasons.