It wasn’t the typical draft day experience, but Tiffany Stewart will take it.
Minus the cameras, the agents and a league commissioner, Stewart – a rightfielder for the USF softball team – was drafted by the New England Riptide in the third-round of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) draft on Feb. 15.
“I was out at practice one day,” Stewart said. “Coach (Ken Eriksen) pulled me aside and explained to me the situation and told me I was getting picked up.”
The Riptide, one of seven NPF teams, chose Stewart as the third pick in its four-round draft to make the senior the eighth USF softball player in the history of the program to be drafted.
“I’m just excited to get the opportunity to continue playing. I really thought that come the beginning of June, that was going to be it for me,” she said. “To be able to play those extra months – I’m just really excited about the opportunity to continue my career.”
In 2005, Stewart led the team in batting average (.399) and finished tied for the lead in home runs with nine. This season, Stewart is batting .286 and has one home run.
According to the league’s Web site, Profastpitch.com, the average NPF player salary is approximately $2,500-$5,000 for the playing season, which lasts from June-August. But Eriksen said he knows Stewart isn’t concerned with the money.
“It’s a situation where it allows you to keep playing softball, and you’re getting paid to do it,” Eriksen said. “While it may not be a million dollars a year, it’s enough money to make it worthwhile and at the same time continue a passion to play this game.”
The Riptide’s season begins on May 31, and Stewart is eligible to join the team after the 2006 season expires. Eriksen doesn’t expect Stewart to have difficulty concentrating on USF’s season before she moves onto her next team.
“That type of athlete, they focus on the task at hand,” Eriksen said. “The task at hand for Tiffany is to concentrate what’s going on at USF. She’s not a kid that looks at the pros and says, ‘Hey, that’s my vehicle for stardom.'”
Stewart was excited about being drafted but said her plans aren’t set in stone just yet.
“It’s something that I’d like to keep doing, but I’ve got other plans. I got accepted to graduate school,” she said. “It’s something that I’m definitely going to do this summer, but I feel like I might be too busy with other things to continue it. But you never know. I might get up there, it might be phenomenal, I may make some other changes.”