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Cathi Aradi

Women's Pro Softball League Releases 2000 Schedule

DENVER, Feb. 2 - The Women's Pro Softball League (WPSL) released its 2000 season schedule Wednesday along with 11 "Central Park to Sydney" pre-Olympic tour match-ups featuring the WPSL's four teams and the USA Softball Women's National Team. Nine cities nationwide will experience the action and excitement of the WPSL, while the women's national team prepares to win the second of back-to-back gold medals at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

The WPSL also announced that ESPN2 has increased its television coverage of the league for the fourth consecutive season. The sports television network will televise eight "Central Park to Sydney" tour games, one regular-season game between the Akron Racers and the Ohio Pride and the final game of the 2000 WPSL Championship Series. "The Deuce" will air its first WPSL broadcast of the 2000 season on Thursday, June 8 at 10 p.m. EDT.

The league's 64-game regular-season begins on Thursday, June 1 and concludes on Saturday, August 19. Each of the WPSL's four teams will play 32 league games and two contests versus USA Softball. Regular-season games will be played in four-game stands beginning on Thursdays and ending on Saturdays, thus eliminating Sunday competition. The 2000 schedule also includes Saturday doubleheaders. The two teams with the best overall records will face off in the fourth annual WPSL Championship Series on Friday, Aug. 25 and Saturday, Aug. 26. The site for the championship series has not been determined.

Each WPSL team will play 24 of 32 games at their home site. Therefore, the Akron Racers and Ohio Pride will play three-quarters of their games at Firestone Stadium, while the Tampa Bay FireStix and Florida Wahoos play the same amount at Plant City Stadium. The Racers and FireStix will also face the USA Softball Women's National Team in their home ballparks. USA Softball will visit Firestone Stadium on Friday, June 9 and Plant City Stadium on Sunday, June 25.

"Central Park to Sydney" will kickoff in mid-May with a media event featuring WPSL players and members of the women's national team. The nine-city tour will officially begin in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Friday, June 2 and conclude with a three-game season-ending series in Honolulu, Hawaii on Saturday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 3. The "Central Park to Sydney" finale will pit USA Softball against a team of WPSL All-Stars. The 2000 WPSL campaign will not include the traditional midseason all-star game.

The following match-ups highlight the 2000 WPSL season schedule:

Thursday, June 1. Tampa Bay FireStix vs. Akron Racers, Akron, Ohio.  1999 WPSL Championship Series rematch opens the 2000 season. Friday, June 9. USA Softball vs. Akron Racers, Akron, Ohio. National team shortstop Crystl Bustos faces her former WPSL team. Sunday, July 23. Florida Wahoos vs. USA Softball, Fresno, Calif. Berg sisters, USA Softball's Laura and WPSL's Randi. Saturday, Sept. 2 & Sunday, Sept. 3. WPSL All-Stars vs. USA Softball, Honolulu, Hawaii.  WPSL All-Stars prepare USA Softball for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.