The softball world and Bandit Nation was stunned on Saturday, December 15, when the Chicago Bandits announced a trade. Sammy Marshall, Shelby Turnier and Emily Carosone had been traded to the Cleveland Comets for Jenna Willey, cash and a draft pick.
Like most softball fans, I never saw this coming. I had noticed that Sammy and Shelby had started a new company with former teammate Kristen Brown. Sammy and Shelby had only recently been announced as the trainers at the newly created Bandit Academy. Despite that situation, I never thought either of them (or Emily) would be traded.
I thought Sammy was a lifer with the organization. She grew up in Naperville, starred at Western Illinois, was a drafted by the Bandits and grew into a star. She also was a team leader on and off the field. Her family was present at every game and function. It seemed like the perfect situation.
A native of Florida, Shelby was drafted by the Bandits and asserted herself as one of the best pitchers in the NPF last season. Her gritty and unexpectedly fantastic performance in the 2016 playoffs earned her legend status. Her parents were frequent visitors at the park, despite still living in Florida.
Not to be lost in all of this is Emily. Also a Florida native, Emily starred at Auburn, before being drafted by the Bandits. She was among the league leaders in several categories, while playing a solid 2nd base. Like the others, Emily's family supported her and the team.
There you have three great players and that is not just an adjective I tossed lightly. Sammy, Shelby and Emily are premiere players. In addition to that, they are class acts on and off the field.
I have had many chats and interviews with these three and I was always impressed with their maturity. Fortunately, I told them and their parents the same thing many times. This isn't hindsight. I always spoke highly of these three.
I feel bad for Jenna, too. She didn't ask to be traded. She is in the middle of a shocking trade. Fortunately, I know Bandit Nation will embrace her quickly as one of their own.
What caused this trade? How could this trade be good for the Bandits? How has Bandit Nation reacted and how will they continue to respond?
Eric Lopez of Fastpitch News invited me on the In the Circle podcast to address these questions and to talk about the players involved. That podcast can be found at Rachel Lawson, Rule Changes, Kentucky Softball and NPF Trade News.
I understand trades and departures are part of sports. Michael Jordan left the Bulls. Monica Abbott left the Bandits. Those were choices by the players though. This trade seems unwanted by all except the management of both teams.
With all of that being as is, the Bandits will go on. As stated, Monica left and the Bandits still won a championship. The Bandits have plenty of talented players and someone will step up on and off the field. As fans and even as a beat reporter, we don't know everything involved. Whatever the reasons, the Bandits' management felt this trade was needed. We might not like it, but we must accept it.
GM Toni Calmeyn has done a fine job with this team. She took over when things looked bleak. She has led the effort to promote the team. She is at every game, facing the fans and I expect she will continue to do so.
As fans, we cheer for the team. We will always love Sammy, Shelby and Emily, just like we love Monica, Taylor Edwards, Brittany Cervantes, Amanda Kamekona, Megan Wiggins and all of the other Bandits who have gone elsewhere to play for whatever reason. Bandit Nation has a unique relationship with players, past and present (as I also discuss on the podcast). I am sure Sammy, Shelby and Emily will get a warm reception whenever they play in Rosemont. In the end though, we will still be cheering for the Bandits.
I was already looking forward to the season, but now it got just a bit more interesting. Go to ChicagoBandits.com for more info and news on the team. You can also check here, as I will once again be covering the Bandits.
Thank you to Sammy, Shelby and Emily for all they did here. Thanks for their friendship and for always having time to talk in and out of interviews. Thanks to them and their families for the support over the years. Good luck with the Comets. Merry Christmas Comets fans. Enjoy these three gifts!
Emily Carosone, Sammy Marshall, Shelby Turnier and me in Rosemont, IL-Summer 2018.
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