Celebrating its 10th consecutive year of providing professional opportunities for post-graduate softball student-athletes throughout the United States, the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) League’s profile continues to grow as many of the country’s best players choose to call the League home.
With the League’s structure constructed of five privately-owned teams based out of Chicago, Ill. (Bandits), Akron, Ohio (Racers), Rockford, Ill. (Thunder), Kissimmee, Fla. (USSSA Pride) and Philadelphia, Pa. (Force), the NPF can currently boast among its various rosters the participation of 15 softball players who were recently selected to represent their country as part of the prestigious USA Softball program at the 2009 Canada Cup, the 2009 Japan Cup and the 2009 Pan-American Qualifier. Out of the 20 post-collegiate players chosen to those various USA squads, an impressive 75 percent (15) of them currently participate on teams in the NPF.
Among the 15 high-profile USA Softball selections that currently call the NPF home are former U.S. Olympians Monica Abbott (USSSA Pride), Jennie Finch (Chicago Bandits), Vicky Galindo (Chicago Bandits), Caitlin Lowe (USSSA Pride) and Cat Osterman (Rockford Thunder) as well as former collegiate All-Americans such as Katie Burkhart (Philadelphia Force), Ashley Charters (Rockford Thunder), Kaitlin Cochran (Akron Racers), Angela Tincher (Akron Racers) and Tammy Williams (Chicago Bandits).
In addition, the League also can trumpet the current participation of former U.S. National Team members Jenny Topping (Akron Racers), Kelly Kretschman (USSSA Pride) and Crystl Bustos (Akron Racers), granting the NPF eight former U.S. Olympic softball players on active rosters.
The NPF season stretches from June through August with a regular season champion selected based on the squad finishing with the best overall record. After each team plays a 40-game schedule, the
League’s top four advance on to a double-elimination NPF Championship Series to be held in 2009 at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. The final two squads wrap up the year in a best two-of-three series for the League crown. The Chicago Bandits are the defending 2008 regular season and Championship Series titlists.
During the 2009 campaign the League has also partnered with Major League Baseball through MLB.com to stream a schedule of 80 NPF games live online to its fans exclusively from the League’s official Web site at www.ProFastPitch.com. The free offering marks the first time regular season NPF games have been streamed live on the Internet through a League-wide partnership. In August 2008, NPF and MLB.com teamed up to stream the title game of the NPF Championship Series on ProFastPitch.com and MLB.com.
Major League Baseball is the Official Development Partner of National Pro Fastpitch in the category of women’s professional fastpitch softball. The partnership, which began the fall of 2002, is part of The Commissioner’s Initiative on Women and Baseball, a league-wide effort to help Major League Baseball and the 30 Major League Clubs build stronger relationships with female audiences.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The NPF, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL).