National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) announced its 2006 schedule that will include 48 regular season games for each of the seven NPF teams. Each team’s schedule includes seven, four-game home series and five, four-game road series.
The season kicks off May 31 and runs through August 20, 2006, with the playoffs and championship game set for August 26-27.
2005 defending champion Akron heads the seven-team league along with the Chicago Bandits, who captured the regular season title in its inaugural season. Other teams include the New England Riptide, Arizona Heat, Texas Thunder, and two newest NPF teams, the Philadelphia Force and Connecticut Brakettes.
NPF will continue to play international teams this season, with results included as part of each team’s overall record. International opponents include the Canadian, Chinese and Chinese Taipei national teams, and Denso Japan, a professional team. According to NPF scheduling committee chairperson Joey Arietta, the USA Softball National Team and World University Games team face NPF squads again this season, joined by the Michigan Force, a candidate for NPF membership in 2007.
“The NPF has made great strides this past year. The teams are excited about more head-to-head competition and hosting teams that play at the highest level of the game,” Arietta said.
New league president Patrick Linden said that ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, will air a select number of NPF games in 2006, including the NPF All-Star Game.
“National television exposure is exactly what the league and players need to continue to move our sport to the next level,” Linden said.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. 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 Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL).