The NPF has added a sixth team to the league, the latest featuring players from the Canadian National Softball Team. The team will be based in Southern Illinois at Rent One Park in Marion, IL where the pro baseball team the Southern Illinois Miners play.
NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf made the announcement with Miners COO Mike Pinto and Softball Canada CEO High Mitchener who said the Canadian Softball Team had been looking for ways to play competitively. “We are delighted to be announcing our entry into the NPF in 2019. Commissioner Kempf has been incredibly helpful in setting up our partnership with the Miners organization and we can’t wait to get going next year,” he said.
Kempf celebrated the addition of the team to the league. “To add an international team of the quality of Canada, currently ranked third in the world, and to add the operational excellence of the administration at Rent One Park, is a home run for all of us.”
The Canadian Wild will play a 50-game schedule in National Pro Fastpitch overall, facing off with some of the best players in the world, including current and former Olympians.
The addition of the Canadian team marks the third team from another country to join the league. The Shougang Eagles have players from China. Aussie Spirit’s roster is mostly filled with players from Australia. The Cleveland Comets also have several players from China.
Preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has brought teams from different parts of the world to the U.S. for the opportunity to face strong competition in the NPF, since teams have players who are top college athletes and could be on the USA Softball team.
Some have criticized the NPF for opening the league to international teams and making it a training ground for softball teams from foreign countries. Commissioner has responded saying that this is a way to grow the game internationally. The question for the NPF will be whether these teams or players will stay in the league after the Olympics in 2020.