Women’s Professional Softball League

The Women’s Professional Softball League was active from 1997-2001. After a few years of inactivity, it was revived and renamed in 2004 as National Pro Fastpitch. The league has six teams: the New England Riptide, the Philadelphia Force, the USSSA Pride, the Akron Racers, the Chicago Bandits, and the Rockford Thunder.

In the process of rebranding and reform in 2002, NPF partnered with Major League Baseball as part of its ongoing efforts to connect with women. MLB signed on as an official development partner, and with their help, NPF went on an all-star softball tour in 2003.

2004 was the first full season for National Pro Fastpitch. The six teams played 178 games. The 2005 season had fewer games, 144, but grew to include international teams from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, China, Russia, and Australia.

As with all growing leagues, teams changed cities many times from inception to today. Although the New England Riptide has not fully retired as some teams have, they sat out the 2009 season due to financial reasons.

An interesting game that the NPF plays is the “Battle of the Bats”. Every Saturday night home game, four players from each team represent a different bat manufacturer for a home run hitting contest between the bat companies and the players. The series’ conclusion takes place on the NPF championship weekend in Kimberly, Wisconsin.

The Women’s Pro Softball League was not the first attempt at a women’s league; there was another movement in the 1970s. The International Women’s Professional Softball Association was founded in 1976 and remained active until the 1980s. There was a lull in the sport until the 1990s, when the Cowles family founded the Women’s Pro Softball League .

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