Nashville, TN - March 12, 2014 - National Pro Fastpitch today announced changes to be implemented for the 2014 regular season and championship play. Changes were made in overall policies, game rules and umpire structure and most were voted on at the owners’ meetings which took place in November.
“This league is certainly still in development and consequently, continues to evolve in all areas including policies, game rules and overall structure,” commented NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “I commend our League Management Committee and the group of owners, general managers, and staff members that continue to keep the best interests of league growth in mind, when determining our direction moving forward. Changes are not always easy to make, but I believe we all realize the importance of continuing to adjust and focus on doing the things that will make this league attractive as a mainstream professional sport.”
Approved changes are listed below under their particular categories:
- Committee voted to keep the International Tie Breaker during regular season play. The tie breaker will continue to be implemented in the top of the 10th inning.
- Committee voted to reject the implementation of a proposed “Run Rule” that would end the game after 5 innings (4 1/2 if home team was ahead) if a team led by 12 or more runs
- Committee voted to implement a “90 second” clock between innings. Upon expiration of the clock, umpires will apply effect from Rule 10.18 of the current rulebook and issue a ball on the batter for “delay of game”.
- Committee voted to revise the current statute of defensive conferences from one per inning to three per game. In extra innings, teams will be given one charged conference per inning that exceeds seven. Violation will result in ejection of the Head Coach.
- Committee voted to eliminate former rule revision under Section 10.18 and apply the current rule in the rulebook instead. This effectively gives the pitcher a total of 25 seconds to get in place on the rubber, take the signal and deliver the pitch.
Policies and Procedures:
- Committee voted to eliminate the Disabled List
- Committee voted to increase the maximum roster limit from 20 to 23 (Salary cap did not increase)
- Committee voted to increase the minimum roster limit from 14 to 18.
- Committee voted in favor of implementing a running 45 minute clock for autograph signing following all games except double headers. The clock will begin counting down immediately following completion of the game. Built into the 45 minute countdown is a 10 minute allowance for players to receive treatment, gather equipment and move to autograph areas. The autograph sessions remain mandatory for all players.
It was also determined that the Chicago Bandits market would be a “test market” for alternate outlines of the autograph sessions. The league is attempting to find the most efficient way to maintain a priority situation of fans having the opportunity to obtain autographs, while also respecting the time of the players to wind-down, eat, res and generally prepare for their next competition.
- Committee voted to implement a complimentary ticket policy that would allow fifty tickets total (between both teams) per game. The Home Team will be given first choice with a 2 ticket per player allowance with the remaining tickets (if any) offered to the Visiting Team. It is at the discretion of the Home Team whether to make discounted tickets available to Visiting Team Players.
- Committee voted for a new payment structure for umpires in the event a game is split in its completion either due to weather or other reason.
- Committee voted for an overall re-structure of the umpire assignment and evaluation system for the league. The new structure will do away with the existing format involving an Area Umpire Coordinator for each market that would cover the responsibilities of assigning game crews and evaluating those crews. The assignment of all league umpires will now be handled at the League Office level by the League Supervisor of Officials. The League Supervisor will also be responsible for gathering crew evaluations from designated Umpire in Chief from each series, making personal evaluations in each market and utilizing the evaluations of outside contracted evaluators. Each crew for every NPF series during the regular season will be assigned an Umpire in Chief that will actively work games as a crew member. The UIC must reside “outside” the Home Team’s local market.
- Committee voted to enter into a contract with the company, “Game Changer” to carry the complete stats of the NPF
- Committee voted to qualify post season Awards to note that players must meet a minimum amount of innings, plate appearances, or total games played, to be considered for post season award nominations and voting. Those minimums are: Defensive player nominees must have played a minimum of 75% of the total innings possible, at the position they are being nominated for. Utility will require the player to have played in 75% of total innings possible, but with no stipulation on position. Offensive player nominees must have 75% of total plate appearances possible based on their team statistics. There are no minimum criteria for the nominations of pitchers into any category that would pertain to the position of pitching.
- Committee voted to change the Championship Series format back to the format utilized 2010 - 2012. That format still sends the top 4 league teams, according to regular season finish, to the Championship Series. Those 4 teams play three series’ of “best-of-three” match-ups. To begin, the #1 seed will play the #4 seed a best-of-three series and the #2 seed will play the #3 seed a best-of-three series with both winners advancing to the Final Series. Those two winners will then compete in a best-of-three series to determine the Cowles Cup Champion. This format will add one day to the competition from the 2013 structure.
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. The league, 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). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball and has been since 2002.