Nashville, TN - December 31, 2015 - The year of 2015 marked one of multi faceted growth for the National Pro Fastpitch League. It was a year that repeatedly saw positives throughout. Those positives echoed the increasing sentiment that professional women athletes belong in the sports entertainment space, and specifically, that NPF teams and athletes are contributors in that space.
The league’s twelfth season began on the heels of the expansion announcement of the Dallas Charge, increasing the NPF affiliate team pool to five for the first time in 6 years. As a result, the competitive season schedule slated 120 total games in 20 separate venues across 9 different states.
Attendance figures increased at a rate of 26% overall with venues averaging 1128 per game. USSSA Pride set a single game high and venue record at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports with a 12,175 total. The first year Charge hit a top 5 attendance mark of 3148 when they hosted the Akron Racers in Colorado. In addition to regular season increases, the Hoover, AL located Championship Series also set an attendance record of 5592, exceeding a 2013 mark in Rosemont, IL of 4815.
The 2015 NPF Draft Presented by Bownet took place for the third consecutive year from Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, but this time from the brand new CMA Theatre. The event was a live telecast featured on CBS Sports Network. The league owners and General Managers managed to make 33 picks inside a live 90 minute window that included player features and interviews, 2014 performance summaries and highlights, as well as bios, videos and interviews focusing on the individual draftees of 2015.
Those draftees combined with free agents presented the NPF with an accomplished and decorated rookie class. Among the accomplishments and awards of the 2015 rookie class:
• 5 members of Women’s College World Series Championship teams
• 2 Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player awardees
• 2 NCAA USA Softball National Player of the Year awardees
• NCAA career home run record holder
• Several ESPY nominees
Another record setter occurred in the area of television for NPF in 2015. In just the second year of partnership with CBS Sports Network, 22 live telecasts re-aired 35 times for a total of 57 complete game airings across the 2 1/2 month season. For eight consecutive weeks NPF live action held a primetime spot on the Monday and Tuesday night lineup for CBSSN.
In addition to the live game action, CBSSN also carried two specials - the 2015 NPF Draft Presented by Bownet, which was a 90 minute live special; and the 2015 Championship Series Preview, which was a 30 minute taped special.
In the span of three seasons, live national television coverage of NPF action went from 6 total games in 2013 (4 regular season; 2 Championship Finals), to 22 total games in 2015 (16 regular season that re-aired 21 times; 6 Championship games that re-aired 1 time). The increase represents nearly 4 times the amount of live coverage and nearly 10 times the amount of overall coverage.
NPF live action was recognized on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 Plays of the Day several times and twice was voted the #1 Play of the Day by viewers.
The year of 2015 concluded as it began, with yet another announcement of expansion in Texas. The Scrap Yard Dawgs locked down the territory of Houston, locating in the affluent suburb of The Woodlands, at the state of the art Scrap Yard Sports Complex. The Dawgs, who begin competition in 2016, mark the second addition of a professional softball team, in as many years, into one of the nation’s most popular amateur softball participation states.
To cap off the growing enthusiasm, the league placed two additional territories into “hold” status for 2017 prior to year’s end, signifying the probability that expansion will continue.
Here are the top 15 notable statistical facts of 2015 for National Pro Fastpitch:
15. Kelly Kretschman of the USSSA Pride was a perfect 10 for 10 in stolen bases
14. USSSA Pride captured its 4th regular season title with a record of 34-14
13. Dallas Charge had the most wins (17) for a first year team since the 2007 Washington Glory
12. USSSA Pride had their 2nd consecutive season with a team ERA under 2.00. (It was their 3rd time to accomplish this in 5 years. No other team has had a sub 2 ERA since 2007.)
11. PA Rebellion’s Alisa Goler did not commit a single error all year. (Goler had the 3rd highest defensive chances with 277)
10. There were zero earned runs given up in the Final Series of the 2015 Championship Series. (USSSA’s Cat Osterman had 1 unearned run each game.)
9. In capturing the 2015 Championship Series, the Chicago Bandits joined the USSSA Pride as the only teams to win 3 Cowles Cups.
8. Akron Racers’ Sarah Pauly became the first NPF pitcher in history to win 100 games in a career.
7. In their inaugural season, the Dallas Charge placed 2 games in the top 10 attendance figures for 2015 with totals of 3148 and
6. Chicago Bandits’ Monica Abbott threw a perfect game on her home field at The Ballpark at Rosemont. (The PG marked 3 straight seasons for the NPF to experience the rare stat.)
5. USSSA Pride’s Jordan Taylor set the NPF single season record for most Saves (11)
4. Akron Racer’s Nerissa Myers led the league in RBI’s for the 2nd straight year. (No player in NPF history has ever accomplished that stat.)
3. USSSA Pride’s Natasha Watley led the league in batting average for the 2nd straight year and the 4th time in 6 years.
2. USSSA Pride’s Kelly Kretschman, the league’s oldest player, took home the league’s highest individual honor, Most Outstanding Player Presented by Mizuno. (Kretschman achieved the honor 15 years after becoming University of Alabama’s first 4-time All American and 12 years after she won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA.)
1. After giving up 4 earned runs in her first game, Chicago Bandits’ Monica Abbott did not give up another earned run for the rest of the regular season. (That span included 11 complete game shutouts and 84.1 innings pitched.)
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hope to see all of you in 2016!
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fast pitch 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 fast pitch softball since 2002 www.profastpitch.com.