Thomas makes professional debut with Cleveland Comets, Team Mexico

Illinois+left+fielder+Carly+Thomas+%2825%29+hits+the+ball+during+the+game+against+Eastern+Illinois+at+Eichelberger+Field+on+March+26.+The+Illini+won+8-7+in+8+innings.
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Thomas makes professional debut with Cleveland Comets, Team Mexico

Illinois left fielder Carly Thomas (25) hits the ball during the game against Eastern Illinois at Eichelberger Field on March 26. The Illini won 8-7 in 8 innings.

Illinois left fielder Carly Thomas (25) hits the ball during the game against Eastern Illinois at Eichelberger Field on March 26. The Illini won 8-7 in 8 innings.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois left fielder Carly Thomas (25) hits the ball during the game against Eastern Illinois at Eichelberger Field on March 26. The Illini won 8-7 in 8 innings.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois left fielder Carly Thomas (25) hits the ball during the game against Eastern Illinois at Eichelberger Field on March 26. The Illini won 8-7 in 8 innings.

By Gabby Hajduk, Staff Writer

Just weeks after finishing her collegiate softball career, former Illini Carly Thomas is preparing for a softball-filled summer with the Cleveland Comets of the National Pro Fastpitch league.

The Comets are now affiliated with Team Mexico for the 2019 NPF season as they announced their new partnership back in March. The partnership gives players with Hispanic backgrounds a shot at making the international team in hopes of competing for Team Mexico in the 2020 Olympics.

“I am so thankful and excited for this God-given opportunity to continue to play softball with Team Mexico this summer,” Thomas said per fightingillini.com. “My family and I are thrilled that I have the opportunity to represent Mexico on the international stage. The response from my family has been one of overwhelming enthusiasm. I could not be prouder to play for this team.”

Thomas will begin her season with the Comets June 6 with a game against the Chicago Bandits. The outfielder will make her professional debut against her former Illinois assistant coach Lance McMahon, who is also the pitching coach for the Bandits.

The Comets will open up their home season against the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois on June 12.

Thomas will also compete with the Comets in the USA International Cup of Softball, the Pan American Games and the World Baseball Softball Confederation Americas Olympic Qualifier this summer.

The 2018 NPF season marked the inaugural season of the Comets. While the Comets finished last in the NPF during the 2018 season, Cleveland hopes to move up the rankings this season as the Team Mexico partnership will add top NPF talent to the roster.

Thomas is coming off her senior season at Illinois where she averaged .351 at the plate with 68 hits and 49 runs. Thomas also hit 24 doubles this season which not only leads the Illini but the NCAA. The Fontana, California, native set the program record at Illinois for career doubles with 68.

Playing in left field, Thomas was selected to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team with just one error on the season.

“We are extremely proud of Carly and all of the hard work she has put in to become one of the best athletes in our sport,” said head coach Tyra Perry per fightingillini.com. “Carly has had a highly decorated collegiate career at Illinois, and it is only fitting that she has this great opportunity to continue playing softball.”

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