National Pro Fastpitch

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National Pro Fastpitch
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2018 National Pro Fastpitch season
National Pro Fastpitch (logo).png
FormerlyWomen's Pro Fastpitch,
Women's Pro Softball League
SportSoftball
Founder2004
Inaugural season2004
CommissionerCheri Kempf
No. of teams6
CountryUnited States United States
Most recent
champion(s)
USSSA Pride (3 titles)
Most titlesChicago Bandits (4 titles)
Official websitewww.profastpitch.com

National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), formerly the Women's Pro Softball League (WPSL), is a professional women's softball league in the United States. NPF currently features six teams: the Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets, and USSSA Pride. Each year, the playoff teams battle for the Cowles Cup.

The WPSL was founded in 1997 and folded in 2001; the NPF revived the league in 2004.

Teams[edit]

National Pro Fastpitch teams
Team City Stadium
Aussie Spirit Traveling team
Beijing Shougang Eagles Traveling team
Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois Marion, Illinois Rent One Park
Chicago Bandits Rosemont, Illinois (Chicago area) Rosemont Stadium
Cleveland Comets Traveling team
USSSA Pride Viera, Florida Space Coast Stadium

Timeline of NPF teams[edit]

Current NPF teams in tan
Former NPF members or defunct teams in blue

Canadian Wild of Southern IllinoisAussie SpiritBeijing Shougang EaglesScrap Yard DawgsTexas ChargeUSSSA PrideWashington GloryPhiladelphia ForceConnecticut BrakettesChicago BanditsCalifornia SunbirdsArizona HeatNew England RiptideNY/NJ JuggernautPennsylvania RebellionNY/NJ CometsTexas ThunderAkron Racers

League history[edit]

On November 21, 2002, WPSL announced a rebranding strategy and official name change to National Pro Fastpitch. Major League Baseball partnered with NPF as its Official Development Partner as a continuation of MLB's efforts to connect with female athletes and women in general.

As "Official Development Partner" in 2003, Major League Baseball provided introductions to Major League Baseball Clubs, community partners, broadcast partners and to MLB.com.

As part of its long-term sales, marketing and promotional campaign, NPF featured an All-Star Tour in 2003. The tour provided each of the league's expansion team owners with tools to lay the groundwork in their marketplace for the official launch of league play in 2004.

In 2004, the league relaunched with six teams in six markets: California Sunbirds in Stockton, California; Arizona Heat in Tucson, Arizona; Texas Thunder in Houston, Texas; Akron Racers in Akron, Ohio ; New England Riptide in Lowell, Massachusetts; and NY/NJ Juggernaut in Montclair, New Jersey.

The 2004 season was distinguished by 178 league-wide games, 96 of the best female softball players in the country, the continued support of Major League Baseball as the Official Development Partner of NPF in the category of women's fastpitch softball, NPF playoffs (both best of three series went three games) and the inaugural NPF Championship with the New York/New Jersey Juggernaut capturing the Championship Cowles Cup with a victory over the New England Riptide, fourth-place finisher in the regular season.

New ownership (2005)[edit]

In December 2004, owners of the individual National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) teams announced a plan intended to transition operations of National Pro Fastpitch from the founding Cowles family to an operating group consisting of team owners.

The efforts of the new ownership group in 2005 focused on solidifying broadcast agreements locally and nationally, soliciting sponsorship support, and aligning with national softball associations to bring meaningful competition to each team market and various grassroots events across the country. The group continues to recruit new teams and strengthen team ownership in each market.

The 2005 regular season included a total of 144 games and 23 opponents including six NPF teams, plus women's ASA major teams and international teams such as Canada, Mexico, Russia, Venezuela, China, and Australia. The season concluded the last weekend in August when the Akron Racers beat the Chicago Bandits 5-4 in extra innings to claim the NPF Championship Title.

The Juggernaut joined forces with Telecare to broadcast six games in 2005. Telecare reaches almost a million homes in the Long Island area. Comcast SportsNet Chicago aired seven original broadcasts of Chicago Bandits games in 2005. ESPN2 aired two games during the NPF Championship series. The final game was broadcast on ESPN2 with a very impressive .48 rating.

The Philadelphia Force and the Connecticut Brakettes joined NPF for the 2006 season. The Brakettes, the Akron Racers, the 2005 Regular Season Champions, the Chicago Bandits, the New England Riptide, the Arizona Heat, the Texas Thunder competed in league play during 2006. The New England Riptide defeated the Connecticut Brakettes to become champions.

For the 2007 season, The Texas Thunder moved to Rockford, Illinois to play as the Rockford Thunder. The Connecticut Brakettes left the NPF to return to exclusive amateur status. The Washington Glory was established as a new franchise, picking up many of the former Brakettes' pro players. The Arizona Heat franchise was officially suspended.

Each of the six established NPF teams played an official schedule of 44 games during 2007, including games against non-league opponents that counted in the NPF standings. The Michigan Ice played a more limited schedule as a provisional NPF team. Non-league opponents included Team China, Denso Japan, the Venezuela national team, and the Stratford Brakettes.

The league moved its playoffs to Kimberly, Wisconsin in a double-elimination format. Washington was the only team in the playoffs to go undefeated and won the championship in the first game on August 26. Rains on August 24 prevented the first day of competition to be played so all Friday games were played Saturday morning/afternoon and the scheduled Saturday games were pushed later into the evening. Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman threw no-hitters during the championship weekend.

In 2008, the league saw the addition of four more games as different international opponents appeared on the schedule and every team played in every other league city. The international opponents included Canada, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei, and Netherlands. Each team played two home series against two of the four international opponents.

The league also hosted Battle of the Bats throughout the 2008 season. At every Saturday night home game, or a selected date if a series is not played on a Saturday night, four players from each team were selected to represent a different bat manufacturer in a home-run-hitting contest. The contest puts manufacturer against manufacturer and player against player in a competition that concluded in Kimberly, Wisconsin as part of the championship weekend.

Contraction and expansion (2009–present)[edit]

The New England Riptide did not play the 2009 season, citing economic reasons.[1] The Washington Glory folded outright and were replaced by the USSSA Pride.

For 2011, the Diamonds became a traveling team, and the Pride split home games between two new venues.[2] In 2012, the Diamonds relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, and became the Carolina Diamonds. They played in various venues in North Carolina during the 2012 season.

The league announced that the Pennsylvania Rebellion would be added as an expansion team for the 2014 season, receiving the roster of the recently defunct NY/NJ Comets.[3]

In January 2015, the league announced the Dallas Charge as an expansion team for the 2015 season. The Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex-based team will split their home games between the Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney and a ballpark in Arlington.[4]

On October 23, 2015, the NPF announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs would join the league as an expansion team based in The Woodlands, Texas.[5]

On January 16, 2017, the NPF announced that the ownership of the Pennsylvania Rebellion would be dissolving the team, effective immediately. All Rebellion players under contract were granted free agency.[6]

On May 2, 2017 NPF announced the addition of an expansion team, Beijing Shougang Eagles. Its roster is to be populated with members of China women's national softball team and selected American players. For 2017, the home half Beijing's schedule was played in the home venues of the other NPF teams. Beijing is expected to announce an permanent US home location in the future.[7]

On October 12, 2017, it was reported the Texas Charge would be dissolving, effective immediately.[8] The NPF did not make an announcement regarding the Charge, but all Charge players under contract were added to the league's transactions page as free agents.[9]

In an arrangement similar to the Beijng Eagles', NPF announced in December 2017 that Softball Australia would be operating a 2018 expansion team, the Aussie Spirit.[10]

On January 28, 2018, the Scrap Yard Dawgs announced via press release they would no longer be affiliated with the NPF. However, the NPF announced they had terminated the franchise on January 29 citing that the team had violated several league operating rules and franchise requirements.[11] The Scrap Yard Dawgs indicated they would continue as an independent team known as Scrap Yard Fastpitch for 2018.[12] On the same day, Ohio.com reported that the Akron Racers would be replaced by a Chinese team, similar to the Beijing Eagles.[13] However, on February 1, 2018 Akron, instead, changed their name to the Cleveland Comets. The Comets will still be an NPF travel team.[14]

Champions[edit]

Cowles Cup Championship results
year champion runner up
2004 New York/New Jersey Juggernaut New England Riptide
2005 Akron Racers Chicago Bandits
2006 New England Riptide Connecticut Brakettes
2007 Washington Glory Rockford Thunder
2008 Chicago Bandits Washington Glory
2009 Rockford Thunder USSSA Pride
2010 USSSA Pride Chicago Bandits
2011 Chicago Bandits USSSA Pride
2012 No champion named
2013 USSSA Pride Chicago Bandits
2014 USSSA Pride Akron Racers
2015 Chicago Bandits USSSA Pride
2016 Chicago Bandits USSSA Pride
2017 Houston Scrap Yard Dawgs USSSA Pride
2018 USSSA Pride Chicago Bandits

Career Leaders[edit]

  • Bold denotes active player.
  • Stats updated as of 2018. Also note that every listed player was active for at least three seasons of play, while every pitcher also reached 200 innings.[15]
Rank Player BA
1 Natasha Watley .393
2 Crystl Bustos .380
3 Emily Allard .366
4 Jessica Mendoza .360
5 Caitlin Lowe .352
6 Kelly Kretschman .350
7 Kellie Wilkerson .348
8 Kristen Zaleski .337
9 Iyhia McMichael .333
Nerissa Myers .333
10 Jill Barrett .330
Rank Player RBI
1 Kelly Kretschman 255
2 Megan Wiggins 241
3 Kristen Butler 179
4 Nicole Trimboli 157
5 Alisa Goler 156
6 Nerissa Myers 148
Kristyn Sandberg 148
7 Brittany Cervantes 143
8 Oli Keohohou 140
9 Andrea Duran 133
10 Stacy May-Johnson 131
Rank Player HR
1 Megan Wiggins 83
2 Kelly Kretschman 55
3 Kristen Butler 48
4 Oli Keohohou 45
5 Brittany Cervantes 44
6 Kristyn Sandberg 43
7 Rachel Folden 41
8 Shelby Pendley 40
9 Taylor Schlopy 39
10 Stacy May-Johnson 38
Rank Player 2B
1 Kelly Kretschman 83
2 Megan Wiggins 56
3 Alisa Goler 52
4 Andrea Duran 39
5 GiOna DiSalvatore 35
6 Taylor Schlopy 33
7 Shelby Pendley 31
Kristyn Sandberg 31
8 Brittany Cervantes 30
Nerissa Myers 30
Tammy Williams 30
9 Kelley Montalvo 29
10 Caitlin Lowe 27
Rank Player 3B
1 Megan Wiggins 18
2 Amber Patton 9
Natasha Watley 9
3 Vicky Galindo 7
4 Renada Davis 6
Sammy Marshall 6
5 Ashley Charters 5
Kelly Kretschman 5
Kelley Montalvo 5
Nerissa Myers 5
Rank Player H
1 Kelly Kretschman 485
2 Megan Wiggins 376
3 Amber Patton 282
4 Nicole Trimboli 279
5 Natasha Watley 277
6 Stacy May-Johnson 267
7 Tammy Williams 251
8 Alisa Goler 247
9 Kristen Zaleski 238
10 Nerissa Myers 231
Rank Player SLG%
1 Crystl Bustos .730%
2 Jessica Mendoza .662%
3 Samantha Marder .600%
4 Sierra Romero .587%
5 Megan Wiggins .586%
6 Rachel Folden .584%
7 Shelby Pendley .563%
8 Oli Keohohou .554%
9 Nerissa Myers .550%
10 Lauren Chamberlain .528%
Rank Player BB
1 Kelly Kretschman 299
2 Megan Wiggins 141
3 Alisa Goler 139
4 Taylor Schlopy 134
5 Kelley Montalvo 131
6 Clare Burnum 126
Brittany Cervantes 126
7 Oli Keohohou 125
8 Nerissa Myers 124
9 Kellie Wilkerson 122
Kristen Zaleski 122
10 Andrea Duran 112
Rank Player SB
1 Kristen Zaleski 92
2 Shanel Scott 85
3 Natasha Watley 84
4 Sharonda McDonald 61
Lisa Modglin 61
5 Clare Burnum 58
Vicky Galindo 58
Megan Wiggins 58
6 Kelly Kretschman 54
7 Brenna Moss 53
Trena Peel 53
8 Amber Patton 49
9 Iyhia McMichael 48
10 Caitlin Lowe 47
Rank Player FP%
1 Kelsey Bruder 1.000%
2 Jenny Topping .997%
3 Jenna Hall .996%
4 Alisa Goler .994%
Ashley Smith .994%
Hallie Wilson .994%
5 Kaylyn Castillo .993%
Selena Collins .993%
Shannon Doepking .993%
Oli Keohohou .993%
Jade Rhodes .993%
Taylah Tsitsikronis .993%

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Rank Player W
1 Monica Abbott 131
2 Sarah Pauly 107
3 Cat Osterman 95
4 Kristina Thorson 56
5 Lisa Norris 54
6 Jocelyn Forest 49
7 Radara McHugh 44
8 Desiree Serrano 43
9 Christa Williams 42
10 Keilani Ricketts 41
Rank Player K
1 Monica Abbott 1,624
2 Cat Osterman 1,260
3 Sarah Pauly 956
4 Lisa Norris 646
5 Jocelyn Forest 474
6 Christa Williams 465
7 Eileen Canney 457
8 Kristina Thorson 455
9 Keilani Ricketts 405
10 Jennie Finch 382
Rank Player ERA
1 Cat Osterman 0.91
2 Christa Williams 1.03
3 Monica Abbott 1.05
4 Jennie Finch 1.11
5 Peaches James 1.60
6 Brandee McArthur 1.66
7 Jolene Henderson 1.72
8 Jocelyn Forest 1.76
9 Amy Harre 1.80
10 Jordan Taylor 1.86
Rank Player IP
1 Sarah Pauly 1,166.2
2 Monica Abbott 1,118.0
3 Cat Osterman 809.1
4 Lisa Norris 702.1
5 Jocelyn Forest 567.0
6 Kristina Thorson 559.0
7 Desiree Serrano 505.2
8 Radara McHugh 484.2
9 Angel Bunner 482.2
10 Eileen Canney 462.0
Rank Player G
1 Sarah Pauly 217
2 Monica Abbott 192
3 Cat Osterman 142
4 Lisa Norris 134
5 Kristina Thorson 129
6 Angel Bunner 123
7 Jordan Taylor 115
8 Radara McHugh 111
9 Jocelyn Forest 109
10 Rachele Fico 108
Rank Player GS
1 Sarah Pauly 173
2 Monica Abbott 146
3 Cat Osterman 115
4 Lisa Norris 113
5 Kristina Thorson 92
6 Desiree Serrano 80
7 Jocelyn Forest 74
8 Angel Bunner 69
9 Eileen Canney 66
10 Keilani Ricketts 65
Rank Player CG
1 Monica Abbott 115
2 Sarah Pauly 101
3 Cat Osterman 72
4 Lisa Norris 57
5 Christa Williams 47
6 Eileen Canney 43
Desiree Serrano 43
7 Radara McHugh 39
Kristina Thorson 39
8 Katie Burkhart 37
9 Brandee McArthur 35
10 Jodie Cox 33
Rank Player FP%
1 Haylie Wagner .985%
2 Megan Gibson .980%
3 Rachele Fico .979%
Jennie Finch .979%
4 Jolene Henderson .972%
5 Desiree Serrano .965%
6 Brandee McArthur .961%
Lisa Norris .961%
7 Peaches James .959%
8 Serena Settlemier .958%
9 Dallas Escobedo .953%
10 Angel Bunner .952%
Rank Player Srikeout Rate
1 Cat Osterman 10.9
2 Monica Abbott 10.1
3 Jennie Finch 9.4
4 Jordan Taylor 9.3
5 Christa Williams 7.3
6 Keilani Ricketts 7.2
7 Katie Burkhart 7.1
Danielle Lawrie 7.1
8 Eileen Canney 6.9
9 Danielle Henderson 6.8
10 Peaches James 6.7
Rank Player WHIP
1 Jennie Finch 0.68
2 Monica Abbott 0.75
Cat Osterman 0.75
3 Christa Williams 0.87
4 Gina Oaks 0.97
5 Peaches James 0.98
6 Jolene Henderson 1.02
Keilani Ricketts 1.02
7 Jordan Taylor 1.05
8 Kaci Clark 1.08
Brandee McArthur 1.08
9 Katie Burkhart 1.11
Sarah Pauly 1.11
10 Danielle Lawrie 1.14

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History of previous leagues[edit]

IWPSA[edit]

The NPF traces its origins back to the first professional softball league. Former LPGA Tour member Janie Blaylock, softball legend Joan Joyce, tennis icon Billie Jean King, sports entrepreneur Jim Jorgensen and Dennis Murphy co-founder of the WHA and WTT leagues, founded the International Women's Professional Softball Association (IWPSA) in 1976. The league featured 10 teams in cities across the nation, including Meriden, Connecticut, Chicago, Illinois, Prescott, Arizona, and San Jose, California. In the IWPSA's first season, each team played a 120-game schedule that featured 60 doubleheaders.

The fledgling association survived four seasons before lack of funds, high travel costs, and inadequate facilities ultimately led to its demise.

Teams[edit]

  • Arizona/Phoenix Bird (1976)
  • Buffalo Breskis (1976–79)
  • Chicago Bandits (1976)
  • Connecticut Falcons (1976–79)
  • Michigan Travelers (1976)
  • Pennsylvania Liberties (1976)
  • Santa Ana Lionettes (1976–77)
  • San Diego Sandpipers (1976)
  • San Jose Sunbirds (1976–78); San Jose Rainbows (1979)
  • Southern California Gems (1976)
  • Bakersfield Aggies (1977)
  • St. Louis Hummers (1977–79)
  • Edmonton Snowbirds (1979)
  • New York Adventurers (1979)

Championships[edit]

1976
Champion: Connecticut Falcons
Runner-up: San Jose Sunbirds
1977
Champion: Connecticut Falcons
Runner-up: Santa Anna Lionettes
1978
Champion: Connecticut Falcons
Runner-up: St. Louis Hummers
1979
Champion: Connecticut Falcons
Runner-up: St. Louis Hummers

Following the IWPSA[edit]

In 1982, the National Collegiate Athletic Association began to sanction the Women's College World Series, a move that led to increased participation and exposure for the sport.

Internationally, the USA Softball Women's national team won back-to-back gold medals at the 1986 ISF Women's World Championship and the 1987 Pan American Games. The college game also benefited from rule changes enacted in 1987 that increased the game's offensive output and ultimately its popularity.

Women's Professional Softball League[edit]

Former Utah State University softball player Jane Cowles and her collegiate coach, John Horan, developed a plan for a women's professional fastpitch softball league. In February 1989, Cowles introduced a blueprint for the league to her parents Sage and John Cowles, Jr., owners of the Cowles Media Company, who agreed to provide financial backing for the endeavor.

Field research and market studies began later that fall and continued to take place into 1993. In January 1994, plans for a barnstorming tour were announced, and 18 months later two teams, the Blaze and the Storm, composed of former collegiate all-stars played exhibition games in cities throughout the Midwest. Eight years of research and planning finally culminated in May 1997, with the Cowles family and title sponsor AT&T Wireless Services launching Women's Pro Fastpitch (WPF). The League began with six teams: Orlando Wahoos, Tampa Bay Firestix, Georgia Pride (later the Akron-based Ohio Pride),[16] Carolina Diamonds, Durham Dragons, and Virginia Roadsters.

WPF Championships[edit]

Results[17]
Year Champion Runner up
1997 Orlando Wahoos Virginia Roadsters
1998 Orlando Wahoos Carolina Diamonds

After completing two seasons as WPF, officials changed the name to the Women's Professional Softball League in 1998. The Orlando Wahoos moved to Akron, Ohio and become the Akron Racers, the only team which still remains in the league today.[16]

The WPSL consisted of four teams located in the Eastern United States in 2000. The world's most talented fastpitch softball players, including former Olympians, collegiate All-Americans, and all-conference selections highlighted the 15-player rosters of the league's four squads. The Akron Racers, Florida Wahoos,[n 1] Ohio Pride, and the Tampa Bay FireStix each participated in the WPSL regular season. The Florida Wahoos defeated the Ohio Pride in the championship series held in Springfield, Missouri.

The 2001 "Tour of Fastpitch Champions" allowed the WPSL to focus on expansion. The 2001 tour traveled to 11 cities that were targeted as WPSL expansion candidates. Competition featured games between the WPSL Gold and All-Star teams as well as Canada, the USA National Teams, and local all-star teams. Nine of these games were televised, seven on ESPN2 and two "live" on ESPN, a first for the WPSL. The season was deemed a success with more than three million households witnessing a WPSL game. Numerous cities are also being developed for future ownership in the league.

Play was suspended during the 2002 season to restructure the organization and allow the league additional time to develop and explore new expansion markets. However, a WPSL All-Star team competed in two exhibition games against the Tennessee All-Stars as part of the National Softball Association's A division Eastern World Series in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The WPSL All-Stars also conducted two clinics as part of the weekend activities.

WPSL Championships[edit]

Results[17]
Year Champion Runner-up
1999 Tampa Bay FireStix Akron Racers
2000 Florida Wahoos Ohio Pride

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Riptide to Suspend Play for 2009". New England Riptide. 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2009-02-15.
  2. ^ "NPF Announces 2011 Schedule". ProFastpitch.com. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  3. ^ "NPF Announces New Team in Pennsylvania". profastpitch.com. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  4. ^ "NPF Announces New Team in Texas for the 2015 Season". Nashville, TN: National Pro Fastpitch. January 9, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  5. ^ Kayla Lombardo (23 October 2015). "NPF introduces Houston Scrap Yard Dawgs as league's sixth team". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Rebellion Out for 2017". Fastpitch News. 16 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  7. ^ Chez Sievers (2 May 2017). "National Pro Fastpitch Adds Chinese Team To 2017 Season". FloSoftball.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  8. ^ "NPF'S TEXAS CHARGE DISSOLVED; WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN 2018 SEASON". Justin's World of Softball. 14 October 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  9. ^ "TRANSACTIONS". ProFastpitch,com. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  10. ^ "National Pro Fastpitch Adds Aussie Spirit in 2018". ProFastpitch.com. 28 December 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  11. ^ "National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Terminates Houston-Based Scrap Yard Dawgs". NPF. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  12. ^ Chez Sievers (28 January 2018). "Scrap Yard Dawgs Announce They Are Leaving NPF". FloSoftball.com. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  13. ^ Michael Beaven (28 January 2018). "Professional softball: Future of Akron Racers in doubt, no pro games to be played at Firestone Stadium in 2018". Ohio.com. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  14. ^ https://www.ohio.com/akron/sports/racers/professional-softball-racers-set-to-become-cleveland-comets-owner-craig-stout-hopes-to-have-games-at-firestone-stadium-hires-stephen-dunn-as-general-manager
  15. ^ "Stats National Pro Fastpitch". Profastpitch.com. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  16. ^ a b Digital Ballparks: Firestone Stadium
  17. ^ a b "Steve Dimitry's IWPSA Web Page". Archived from the original on 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2009-10-04.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This version was a new expansion team in Plant City, Florida, unrelated to the previous Orlando Wahoos that became the Akron Racers (ref)

External links[edit]