Akron, OH - Akron Racers, Pres/GM, Joey Arrietta announced today the signing of Ayumi Karino. Karino represents the NPF’s first ever Japanese player and will suit up for the league’s oldest existing team, the Racers, this summer. Karino, a 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist for Japan, will head to Akron after completing her spring season for Toyota Shokki, a member of the Japanese Softball League.
Karino and her teammates stunned the world in 2008, with their 3-1 decision over the three-time Gold Medal USA squad. In that final gold medal game, Karino, at age 23, singled off Cat Osterman, and drove in the first run in the top of the third inning to give the Japanese National Team a lead they would never surrender. The Japanese went on to win Japan’s first Olympic gold medal in softball.
“I have been on a mission to open the door of our league to the influence of the Japanese on our game,” commented Arrietta. “All the credit goes to Toyota Industries and Lucy Casarez for their willingness and vision to make this happen. I couldn’t be more thrilled for our fans, our team, our league, but most of all, for Ayumi.”
Karino marks the first ever Japanese player in the NPF, or any American professional softball league.
“I am thrilled for the Akron Racer’s and Racer’s fans for signing an international player with the resume of Ayumi Karino. What this move does for National Pro Fastpitch, is immeasurable,” commented NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “We know the potential for professional softball in this country is virtually untapped and the ability to truly showcase a broad representation of the world’s very best players is something that will surely add to the positive growth and interest in NPF for years to come.”
The Racers, Hillary Bach, currently in Japan, playing in the Japanese Softball League, will begin the process of getting to know her new teammate prior to both of them returning to Akron. “I cannot think of a better representative of our team and an easier person to get to know, than Hillary,” noted Arrietta. “I’m going to begin learning a little Japanese myself to keep up with those two.”
The NPF season will kick off June 5th with the Akron Racers taking on the Chicago Bandits in Rosemont, IL. Following that, the NY/NJ Comets will open against the USSSA Pride in a home date for USSSA in Kissimmee, FL. The 2013 season will feature 88 regular season games before the league’s Championship Series, that will once again be held in Rosemont, IL, at the culmination of the regular season.
About the Akron Racers: The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. The Racers competed in the Women's Pro Softball League (WPSL) for two seasons in 1999 and 2000 and in the NPF since 2004. Historic Firestone Stadium is home to the Racers and numerous amateur events at all levels of play. The Racers kick-off their 12th season of play in 2013. www.akronracers.org
About National Pro Fastpitch: National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. 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 since 2002. www.profastpitch.com