Australia Enters Professional Ranks of Softball for First Time in History
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 28, 2017) National Pro Fastpitch is expanding its international footprint for the second time in eight months with the addition of the Aussie Spirit, marked to begin competition with the 2018 season.
NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf made the announcement Thursday in a cooperative effort with Softball Australia and its CEO, Chet Gray.
“This is a move that once again increases the reach of the professional softball footprint, not just domestically, but globally,” commented Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “The trickle down effect of this type of international commitment means continuous increased participation at the youth levels of our sport throughout the world and that is something to celebrate. The NPF is extremely proud to welcome the Aussie Spirit to the league in 2018.”
The Aussie Spirit is operated by Softball Australia, the nation’s governing body for the sport of softball. For several years, Australian players have participated in the NPF with a record high eight players last season rostered to the Chicago Bandits, including standout pitcher, Kaia Parnaby.
“We are thrilled to be part of National Pro Fastpitch competition in 2018. It’s a game -changer for Australian women’s softball,” stated Softball Australia CEO, Chet Gray. “It is our plan that the high quality 50 game schedule, combined with the intense daily training environment, will give the Australian team a boost ahead of the 2018 WBSC World Championship which is also a potential qualifying event for Tokyo 2020.”
The Aussie Spirit will be based in the midwest and will compete at locations throughout the region. Those locations will include Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri with the goal to place Spirit home games in locations that coincide with some of the regions larger youth tournaments.
NPF operations of the Aussie Spirit will be overseen by Midwest Sports Productions (MSP). MSP owner, Jeremy McDowell will manage all day to day operations including schedule locations and special events that will include Spirit team members.
“This will be such a great opportunity for fastpitch softball fans in the Midwest to connect with the world’s best players, something we know will leave them falling in love more with this great game,” said McDowell. “We are working on a schedule that will include many community events that will connect players and fans throughout the season. MSP is very excited and honored to be a part of this incredible partnership beginning in 2018.”
Although the 2018 NPF schedule will not be completed and released until late January, the Aussie Spirit is expected to report to market mid-May. The Aussie Spirit will be among six teams competing in the 2018 NPF season.
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Akron Racers, Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs, and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2018 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.