In her third season in National Pro Fastpitch, former UCF Softball All-American Shelby Turnier is pitching as well anyone in the sport.
Saturday night, Turnier made her first career pro start in her home state and shut down the explosive USSSA Pride offense, going 3 innings, giving up no runs and striking out three, as she helped the Chicago Bandits to a 5-3 victory.
Turnier has been back and forth throughout her NPF career, being used as both a starter and a reliever. I compare her season and career in the NPF to Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer pitcher John Smoltz, who excelled as both a starter and reliever.
This season, Turnier is 5-0 with a 0.62 ERA (5th in NPF), with 40 strikeouts and just 5 walks in 45 innings pitched. Her 3 saves leads the NPF. On June 18th, Turnier combined with Alesha Ocasio and Paige Lowary to throw a perfect game. Turnier threw 3 no-hitters at UCF.
BANDITS TOSS COMBINED PERFECT GAME IN DOUBLEHEADER SWEEP OF SPIRIT. ROSEMONT — Turnier, Ocasio and Lowary combined to deliver a perfect game as part of a doubleheader sweep against the Aussie Spirit on Sunday at Parkway Bank Sports Complex.— NationalProFastpitch (@profastpitch) June 18, 2018
Read more at https://t.co/4t9KHxWt5G pic.twitter.com/nyZWqwZwpj
Turnier has a chance to become the first player ever from UCF to make All-NPF honors and is in the mix to win NPF Pitcher of the Year.
David Berri, who contributes to Forbes, recently wrote an article that made the argument that Turnier was the best pitcher in the sport.
Turnier recently discussed her season with local Chicago media:
Turnier is one five UCF Softball players to play in the NPF, along with Stephanie Best (05-09), Allison Kime (08-09), Breanne Javier (09) and Kahley Novak (15-16). Best and Kime won NPF Championships - Best in 2007 with Monica Abbott, and Kime in 2009 with Cat Osterman.
Turnier helped lead the Bandits to the NPF Championship in her rookie season in 2016, as she outpitched Abbott in the semifinals and then helped knock off the Pride to win the Championship.
Turnier has now led the Bandits back to NPF Championship Series, as they will face off against the Pride once again for the NPF Championship August 16-20 in Rosemont, Illinois, in a best-of-five Series. The Bandits have qualified for the playoffs in all three seasons Turnier been there.
Turnier has bethe come face of a Bandits franchise that has had Monica Abbott and Jennie Finch in the past. She been showcased on promotions like this one, for ticket sales back in the spring.
Turnier is building a resume that is on track to be the best pro career any UCF Softball player has ever had, and has built a strong case as the greatest Knight softball player of all-time.
Turnier became the first All-American in program history in 2015 and was a finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award. She led the NCAA in ERA that year with 0.87, edging out her teammate and fellow All-American Mackenzie Audas (0.95). Turnier won AAC Pitcher of the Year Award and finished her career as the program's all-time leader in wins (80). She was part of three NCAA Tournament appearances (2014-2016) and helped the Knights make it to the Regional Final each season. She also was part of back-to-back AAC regular season titles (2014 and 2015) and pitched a one-hit shutout in the 2015 AAC Championship Game, leading UCF over Tulsa.
Turnier is the highest-drafted player in UCF Softball history, going 11th overall in 2016 NPF Draft to the Bandits.
Turnier also spent the last two years as an assistant coach at North Florida, but left the position in May to become a full-time employee for the Bandits and the city of Rosemont, which owns the team. Turnier will work for the city and Bandits, co-running the new Bandits Academy. She says she has no thoughts of slowing down anytime soon, as she still works on her pitches, adding a new pitch this year to her game with a drop ball, which has made a difference this season as she hopes to win her second NPF Championship.
Should Turnier continue this success in the NPF in coming years, then not only will Turnier have a strong case to be regarded as UCF Softball's greatest player and a legendary face of the program, but she also makes a case to be second greatest UCF female athlete of all-time behind only Women's Soccer's Michelle Akers.
But Turnier is not concerned with any of that. She is locked in on helping the Bandits win on and off the field, one day at a time, one pitch at a Time.
You can listen toan interview I did with Shelby in December of 2016 where she reflected on her UCF career and her 1st NPF Championship with Bandits in 2016 right here.