The 2018 season will bring a milestone for National Pro Fastpitch, as the league will be celebrating its 15th anniversary. In honor of its anniversary, National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) has announced various season long initiatives that will recognize influential and impactful players of the league throughout its history.
The initiatives will take place at both the league and team levels and will include specially themed days at the park, social media fan engagements and video messages from many of the league’s well-known players since 2004.
The video messages lead off with special birthday wishes from league veteran and USSSA Pride former outfielder, Jessica Mendoza. Following her retirement from the Pride in 2012, Mendoza went on to break barriers in the broadcasting world by becoming the first woman to call a nationally televised Major League Baseball post season game. She is currently a staple on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting team and is a familiar voice also, as a lead color commentator on ESPN’s coverage of the very popular NCAA Softball Tournament and Women’s College World Series.
The league, starting in 2004, branched off from the former Women’s Professional Softball League (WPSL), which began in the early 1990’s. The obvious difference in the NPF was the structure from a single league and team owner entity to individual team ownership.
The Akron Racers were members of the inaugural season of competition in 2004. The Racers made the transition to the new league, having been involved in the former WPSL, and the Bandits were a new team in 2005. The USSSA Pride is currently the third oldest team, joining the league in 2009 and celebrating their 10th season of professional softball this year. Reigning Cowles Cup Champions, Scrap Yard Dawgs, joined the league in 2016, capturing the title in their second season. Last year, the Beijing Shougang Eagles became the first complete international team to join the league followed by the Aussie Spirit, a fully rostered Australian team that will debut in 2018.
Along the way, there have been many milestones for the league, that, in the professional sports world, is still in its infancy. From an administrative standpoint, the league established a true league office in 2007 in Nashville, with the hiring of current Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. Kempf, within two years, established two important initiatives that would sustain the league through the lean years of national economic hardship- the formation of NPF Media, LLC as an investing ownership of the league, and the formation of the league itself as a franchisor.
Throughout the 15 years, the league has also worked strategically and diligently in forming activation assets for current and future sponsorships. Those assets include the stand-alone events of the NPF Championship Series, NPF Draft, and the Fall Back to School Tour. In addition to that, NPF has showcased its potential for broad based multi platform media distribution through coverage on ESPN2 (Championships 2011, 2012 and season plus Championship in 2013), CBS Sports Network (Season and Championships 2014-2016 and Draft plus Pre-Series Special 2015, 2016), and most recently, NPFTV (2016, 2017), The Olympic Channel, MLB.com and Flo Sports (2018).
From a performance standpoint, the NPF has enjoyed the game’s most accomplished, decorated and recognizable players, both as former USA Softball Olympians and National Team members, and NCAA standouts. Internationally, throughout the league’s 15 years, top players have participated from Australia, Canada, China, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
The league and teams will recognize many former players and coaches throughout the season as well as long-time fans and season ticket holders by hosting fan promotions, interactive events and presentations.