It was a memorable Summer for former UCF All-American pitcher Shelby Turnier. First, Turnier helped the Chicago Bandits win the NPF Championship in her rookie season. Then, a few weeks later, Turnier got a job as an assistant coach with the University of North Florida softball program.
Turnier spoke about it for the first time exclusively with me, discussing how she ended up at UNF as well as her rookie season with the Bandits. You can listen to the interview right here.
Turnier was drafted by the Chicago Bandits back in April with the 11th overall pick in the NPF Draft - the highest any Knight Softball player has ever been drafted. She is the fifth UCF Knight to play in the NPF, joining Stephanie Best, Allison Kime, Breanne Javier and Kahley Novak. Turnier joined the Bandits after her Knights career ended in May at the Gainesville Regional Final against #1 Florida on May 22. One week later, Turnier signed her pro contract.
Turnier reflected on her UCF career with me as well, which you listen to right here.
Turnier had a homecoming to remember in Orlando on July 17th, as she put on a show in front of friends and family at Champions Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Turnier was dominant in relief as she pitched four innings, giving up just one hit and no runs and recording two strikeouts in picking up the win as the Bandits defeated the USSSA Pride, 5-1.
Turnier shutdown the league-leading Pride’s offense with a nice mix of pitches, working the corners of the plate effectively.
In the bottom of the fifth, as Turnier was warming up, she notice a familiar face getting interviewed on the TV broadcast that brought a smile to her face. UCF Softball Head Coach Renee Luers-Gillispie was in attendance to watch Turnier pitch.
The Bandits would go on to win two of three from the Pride in that series.
Fast forward to the NPF Championship Series in Alabama where the top four teams arrived for the playoffs. The Bandits would face the Scrap Yard Dawgs and ace pitcher Monica Abbott, who led the Bandits to the NPF title the year before. The teams split the first two game, forcing a decisive Game 3.
Turnier came in relief in the 3rd inning and matched Abbott pitch-for-pitch over four-and-a third innings in relief, allowing two hits while striking out six to help solidify the Bandits’ place in the championship series, where they would once again face the top team in the league, the USSSA Pride.
The Pride took Game 1, but only to see the Bandits win Game 2 as Turnier once again came on in relief to secure the win, 11-5.
In Game 3, Turnier shut the door in the seventh with a 1-2-3 frame, including retiring Megan Wiggins on a pop out to end the game:
Turnier finished the postseason without allowing a single run in nine innings of work while allowing just five hits with 10 strikeouts.
The playoff run was very similar to another Knight Great that Turnier has been compared to during her Knights career.
On Aug 22, 2009, Allison Kime came in relief of Cat Osterman in Game 3 of NPF Semifinals to send GM Aaron Moore and the Rockford Thunder to the Championship series against the USSSA Pride. Kime would win the NPF Championship title in her second season, beating the Pride in three games, and coming back to win the last two, just like Turnier's Bandits just did seven years later.
“I’ve seen a lot of pitchers in the league, and I can easily say she pitched with the same demeanor as the great ones like Cat Osterman and Jennie Finch,” Bandits General Manager Aaron Moore said about Shelby. “She was unfazed at the biggest times, when it mattered most”.
Turnier became the 3rd UCF Softball player to win an NPF Championship, joining Kime and Stephanie Best, who won the NPF Title in 2007 with Monica Abbott and the Washington Glory. The Glory would move two years later to Florida to become the USSSA Pride.
“Shelby mentality reminded me a lot of Allison Kime from my time with the Thunder,” said Moore, who was the General Manager of the Thunder and signed Kime as a free agent rookie in 2008. “Allison is another pitcher that wasn’t fazed by much, and she always wanted the ball in big situations. Allison was always a pitcher that kept our team in the game and ways wanted the ball.”
Championships are no stranger to Turnier, who won two high school state championships at Palm Beach Gardens High School before arriving at UCF. Turnier helped UCF win American Athletic Conference regular season championship in 2014 and 2015 and pitched a one-hit shutout against Tulsa at the 2015 American Athletic Conference Tournament at the UCF Softball Complex.
Turnier became UCF's first ever All-American in 2015 and finished as a National Player of the Year finalist as well. She left UCF as the all-time leader in wins with 80. Turnier would also lead the NCAA in ERA that year at 0.87.
Turnier reflected with me her career at UCF which you can read about right here.
Turnier now will seek a new challenge as she begins a new career and new challenge at UNF.